Celebrate Spring with Fresh Local Produce

 This photo was taken from the Main Farmers' Market website:  www.mainfarmersmarket.org

This photo was taken from the Main Farmers' Market website: www.mainfarmersmarket.org

May in Ottawa is an exceptional month. Finally, green grass and foliage, the Tulip Festival is in full bloom, and the Main Farmers' Market (my local market) has reopened. Although May is early in the farming season, that doesn’t mean stalls will be bare. The farmers have been ramping up over the winter in preparation for the spring harvest.  

This month, you can expect produce aplenty! Jamie Creskey, who runs Hoople Creek Farm along with his family, says that he will be offering radishes and a variety of greens, including swiss chard, lettuce, mustard greens, arugula and kale. He says you may notice that some of these greens, which are typically bitter in taste, will be sweeter as a result of exposure to cooler spring temperatures and morning frost. John Weatherhead, of Waratah Downs Organic Farm, expects to have potted herbs and tomatoes in tow.

Shopping at the Main Farmers' Market is a great way to support regional farmers and contribute to the local economy, not to mention it’s also a healthy option too. The produce you will find has generally been harvested the day of, or the day before, to ensure freshness and quality. From a nutrition perspective, obtaining freshly harvested produce is ideal. Vegetables and fruits are major dietary sources of macronutrients, such as fibre, and micronutrients, which includes vitamins and minerals, and it’s best to eat your produce as close to harvest as possible to avoid degradation of nutrients, water loss and spoilage.

A wonderful way to enjoy your market vegetables, and capitalize on their health promoting properties, is to have a fresh spring salad with a homemade apple cider vinaigrette. To prepare your salad, wash and throughly dry approximately 4 cups of chopped greens and a handful of fresh herbs. Once clean and dry, transfer your greens and herbs to a salad bowl and include any other vegetables or topping of your choice. You might try adding nuts, seeds, chickpeas, beans, lentils, fresh or dried fruits, or sauerkraut to the mix.

To make the vinaigrette combine 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons of dijon mustard, and 2 teaspoons of maple syrup in a bowl or medium sized measuring cup. Slowly pour in 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and whisk, or stir, until thoroughly emulsified, then mix in sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over your salad and toss until the greens are evenly coated. Serve and enjoy immediately.

Rain or shine, the farmers will be at the Main Farmers' Markets, every  Saturday from the beginning of May until the end of October.  

This article was written for the May 2015 edition of the Mainstreeter. It has been reformatted for my blog, however you can see the original version HERE (on page 15).