Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reading Terminal Market to Acquire Farm to City

Thanks to Bob Libkind for his informative post about this important happening in Philly's local food scene. Let's hope this merger means even more local food options for the people of Philadelphia.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Night Market Location Announced!

The Food Trust has announced the time and date and location of the first Night Market we posted about earlier in the month. It will be on September 30th, from 6-10 at the corner of Passyunk Ave. and Tasker in South Philadelphia. You know we will be there to cover it. You should come too!

Debunking the Nixon Naysayers

There has been a huge response to the Philly Food Feed's reporting the of visit of former President Nixon to the Headhouse Farmers' Market this past Sunday. It seems there are some who dispute that the picture posted on this blog is, in fact, the former President. When pressed, they say that they do not see any resemblance between the Nixon they knew, and the one photographed at the Headhouse Market. In order to put this matter to rest, I have obtained archival photographic footage of Nixon. This rare photo from 1972 pictures former President Nixon discussing the SALT Treaty with then General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Leonid Breshnev:

Apparently, Brezhnev thought Nixon needed more SALT, while Nixon felt he was seasoned appropriately. Hopefully this indisputable photographic evidence should put the whole matter behind us.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

President Nixon Visits the Headhouse Market

In what can only be described as uncanny, former President Richard Milhouse Nixon paid a visit to Noelle Margerum of Margerum's Herbs, Etc. this Sunday at the Headhouse Market. Although Nixon - believed dead for over 15 years - tried to keep a low profile, the Philly Food Feed obtained photographic evidence of his brief appearance.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Roving Night Market? Awesome!

The Food Trust is at it again! From the City Paper:
The Food Trust, nutritional advocates, local/sustainable boosters and orchestrators of Philly's many excellent farmers markets (including Big Papa Headhouse), will launch a roving night market in the month of September. Inspired by the bustling nighttime bazaars that can be found throughout Asia, these night markets will be held six times over the next 18 months, with each installment located in a different neighborhood around the city. The Food Trust does not yet have its vendor/participant list confirmed, but expect the city's most prominent street food vendors to set up shop for these special one-off events, and don’t be surprised if info on live music/entertainment emerges sooner rather than later. We hear the details and location of the inaugural night market will be released within the coming week; for now, visit nightmarketphilly.org and join their mailing list to keep posted.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What I'm Doing on Saturdays

I took the camera with me to work today in order to share with you what I'm seeing on Saturdays at Clark Park. The lighting was good and the food was on full display. Check out some of the fare from Urban Girls Produce:

Like Wow! These look like they could be on the cover of some sort of culinary magazine. This is in Philadelphia folks, you can get here if you want to! This is only a sample of what you will find at Clark Park. Its always bustling with people but you never feel crowded in. There are so many characters too - farmers, customers, musicians. One of those characters is my boss Noelle. She really works hard to make sure everything is out, looking good, and ready for the throngs of people who stop at our stand.
This picture has not been doctored, the shutter speed not altered. This is how fast she normally moves. I don't know what she looks like exactly; she is a blur. I'm kidding of course but she is super efficient and knows her stuff. I am learning a huge amount about produce, and the business of farming from Noelle. Its an education that I'm getting paid for. What a scholarship! Case in point - today I learned about a fruit heretofore not on my radar screen - the Elderberry.

I mention the Elderberry here for a myriad of reasons, the most important being that a myriad of people asked  what exactly this berry was, and what can be done with it. By the time the 73rd person asked these questions, I was begging Noelle to make a sign. So for anybody who wants to know, here is the story of the Elderberry - Elderberries grow on elder trees, sometimes called elderberry bushes. Elderberries contain sizable amounts of Vitamin C, Potassium, and in clinical studies have been proven to shorten the duration of the common cold (in fact, Elderberry Juice was used to treat a flu outbreak in Panama in 1995). They also contain anthocyanin pigments which give the elderberry their color and are great antioxidants. All of that, and you can also make wine out of them.

So that is Clark Park on a Saturday. If you have not already done so, come down and visit once in a while. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

No title needed for this blog post; the picture almost speaks for itself. For those of you who do not speak vegetable, this is an heirloom tomato courtesy of Barry Savoie of Savoie Organic Farm. You can catch him at the Haddonfield Farmers' Market on Saturdays and at the Headhouse on Sundays. If this tomato could only last until Halloween, I would put it out as a pumpkin. Alas, it might make it until tomorrow, right up until I put it in my next Ratatouille.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Grand Opening of the Norris Square Park Farmers' Market; Eleven Down, Sixteen to Go

The Philly Food Feed Farmers' Market Marathon continued on Thursday and we turned into "Johnny on the Spot" at the grand opening of the Norris Square Park Farmers' Market on the corner of Susquehanna and Howard Streets in North Philadelphia. This market is the second of ten new markets the City of Philadelphia is slated to open over the next two years, in partnership with The Food Trust and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In an effort to provide fresh foods to low-income areas of the city, the HHS is providing a 15 million dollar grant from their Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative derived from a 650 million dollar, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allotment.  The idea here is that by increasing access to healthy foods in low-income communities, the obesity prevalence and chronic diseases that plague these communities will decrease. While the noble aspects of this plan have to be admired, fighting obesity now costs less money than having to fight it later with health care dollars. During this "Marathon", I have visited parts of the city that I usually don't frequent and it really makes me appreciate the access I have to healthy food. I have never lived in a place where I could not walk to get an apple, even if it wasn't organic. Even with that, I still have diabetes and there is no doubt it is weight related. Moreover, I only know what I know now through my own research and advanced age. Advanced at least over some of the children who gathered at the opening to profess their love for healthy food. They need more fruit options than Tahitian Treat or they will be checking their blood sugar three times a day by their thirties.

The vendor on hand, Solly Farm, showcased some beautiful fruits and vegetables and definitely proved themselves worthy of the auspicious occasion. Among their wares I spotted peaches, apples, eggplant, strawberries (still?) and onions. It is their fruit you see as the new blog background. Wow, what a prestigious distinction for them. Somebody be sure to let them know.                                            
A special shout-out has to go to The Food Trust for managing the entire affair. One didn't have to look far to see one of their smiling faces assisting the farmers or the customers or anybody else who might have had a question. It was crowded and hot but I didn't see any of them break a sweat. Well, it was pretty hot so I'm sure they did, whether or not I actually saw it. I know Ethan was sweating, but overall he was a very good boy. The whole affair went off without a hitch (unless you count the Mayor taking over decoration detail from the wind), and you could definitely tell that everyone was having fun, a welcome by-product of the spread of healthy food.
Speaking of the spread of healthy food, there is another program promoting access to fresh produce I wanted to highlight. The Philly Food Bucks Program, a joint effort of The Food Trust (again!) and the Philadelphia Department of Health, should motivate those receiving SNAP/food stamps benefits to really get in on the fresh food fun. For every five dollars they spend in SNAP/food stamps benefits at a participating farmers' market, they will receive two dollars in Philly Food Bucks to spend at any other SNAP participating farmers' market. Here is a list of said markets. What a fine idea; more investment in communities rather than in insurance companies. I also like the name. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Farmers' Markets Sprouting Up All Over the Country

Here is a recent article from Grist detailing the USDA's press release touting the growing number of farmers' markets in the United States. While the numbers are promising, they still are less than 1% (direct sales - i.e. farmers' market, u-pick, farm stands) of the total food economy.
Link - Farmers' Markets Growing Like Weeds Around the Country

Its National Farmers' Market Week!

The USDA has designated August 1st through August 7th as National Farmers' Market Week! Here is a copy of the official release from Thomas J. Vilsack, himself. After reading this rousing endorsement of American Farmers' Markets, even I could forgive him for the sacking of Shirley Sherrod (rim shot). But seriously folks (wakka wakka wakka), this week when you are buying your produce, take the time to thank a farmer for their hard work and dedication in getting you the freshest and most healthy food possible. While you only see your farmer maybe once a week, they are tirelessly (or tiredfully) working the rest of the week harvesting, planting, planning, digging, and generally getting sweaty over what you feed your family (not literally, I hope). Give them a pat on the back!

Some Comings and Goings From the Food Trust

Tuesday, September 21st will be The Food Trust Night at Citizens Bank Park. The Phightins will be taking on the Atlanta Braves, our current rival in the standings. Tickets are $26 and a portion of the sales before August 21st will go to supporting The Food Trust's programs. Team Up!

North Star Orchard Returns to the Headhouse this upcoming Sunday. They will be located by the Pine Street Entrance.

Tomorrow is the grand opening of the Norris Square Farmers' Market on West Susquehanna and Howard St. The market opens at three.

The Clark Park Revitalization Project begins Monday, but will not get in the way of your Thursday and Saturday shopping. In fact, when all is said and done, the park will be getting a major face-lift!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Old Business and New; Ten Down, Seventeen to Go

Yes, it was over two weeks ago when I said the Feed would be back in full swing. I am a filthy liar and deserve my donut peach privileges revoked. As most of you know, behind the Food Feed is a family and this family has been going through some changes as of late, changes that actually involve the local food movement - who would have thunk it? More on that later. With change comes transition and we are adjusting accordingly. Oh and that heat wave last week didn't help either. Ethan hates the heat (poor him) and I didn't want him to have to sweat it out while I discussed the virtues of a zucchini with a Mennonite. Worry not though, for Sarah, Ethan, and I have been enjoying the fresh and local bounty of the season and have even made it to a couple more markets for the Farmers' Market Marathon. Although we still have many markets to visit in order to deem the Market Marathon a success, we at the Feed are confident that we can get it done. The journey will leave us well-fed, that's for certain.

Some Old Business

I do have two more markets to add to the list. Both are significant in that I met farmers previously not on my radar. When I visited the market at South and Passyunk (Tuesdays, 2:30 to 7:00 PM), I was introduced to Taproot Farm. These carrots were awesome. We used them in salad where Sarah would shave them in with a peeler. I also purchased some beets that you can also see in the picture. They were sweet and enjoyable. Beechwood Orchards, a familiar stand-out in the Philly market scene, were also at this market. This is where we first found out about Ethan's penchant for blueberries. I bought a pint which became a quarter of a pint by the time I made it home and I think I might have had one.
Ethan and I also visited the Haddington Market (Wednesdays and Fridays, 1:00 to 5:00 PM), located on 52nd and Haverford Ave. in West Philly. This market is convenient for me because it is literally blocks away from Sarah's job. Although modest in size, this market helps to facilitate a West Philly community's access to fresh and local food. Likewise, the participating farmers have an outlet for their produce. One of those participating farmers was Mill 
Creek Farm, an urban farm located in the Mill Creek section of West Philadelphia. Mill Creek is an educational farm and is committed to improving the lives of inner-city residents through access to fresh and local produce. Not only do the folks at Mill Creek grow food, they also offer educational experiences through community workshops and summer youth job training program. This was my first experience with Mill Creek, although after exploring their website and dining on some of their heirloom tomatoes, it definitely won't be my last!

Some New Business

Not really new business, but as some of you know I can be found on the weekends working the markets - either on Saturday at Clark Park or Sunday at the Headhouse. As I said before, we are adjusting to no Daddy home during the day on the weekends. Dinnertime is becoming one of the most important times of the day for us because it is one of the only times we are all together. We are happy though because any extra money helps, and on top of that, I'm getting my foot in the door of the local food movement! I'm working for Noelle Margerum at Margerum's Herbs, Etc. I'm really learning a great deal from Noelle and am super excited about the experience of being on the other side of the market table. I'm learning about new fruits and vegetables (not really new, just new to me), and preparing them in ways heretofore unknown to my family. As far as my wife is concerned it has been Hit more than Miss,  although I definitely can out-eat her in a Ratatouille contest - hands down (recipe to follow). 
I wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate Ben Wenk and the folks over at Three Springs Fruit Farm. for the illustrious distinction of being the first Mid-Atlantic fruit farm designated as a Food Alliance certified grower. What does that mean? Here are the certification standards of the Food Alliance:

Producer certification standards for farms and ranches:

  • Provide safe and fair working conditions
  • Ensure the health and humane treatment of animals
  • No use of hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics
  • No genetically modified crops or livestock
  • Reduce pesticide use and toxicity 
  • Protect soil and water quality
  • Protect and enhance wildlife habitat
  • Continuously improve management practices

As you already know, the Philly Food Feed subsists on a steady diet of apples and peaches and other various   earthly delights from Three Springs. Not that we needed any more incentive, but the fact that Three Springs engages in these growing practices only makes their food all the more delicious. Great Job! 

Ben's First Time Ever Made But Really Good Ratatouille
2 cups Eggplant Diced
1 Green Pepper
1 Large Onion
2 Cups Zucchini
6 Cloves of Garlic Minced
2 Tomatoes, Peeled and Seeded Chopped
1 Tbsp.Dried Parsley
1 Tbsp. Dried Basil
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Tsp. Pepper
1/8 Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Grated Cheese (I used Locatelli).
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Saute' the garlic, onions, and eggplant in a pot on medium high heat until eggplant gets soft, about 8 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and seasoning and put a lid on the pot and simmer for like 20 minutes, all the while stirring the concoction. After about 20 minutes, there should be enough liquid in the pot to be boiling. Take off the lid and keep intermittently stirring for about 15 more minutes until liquid just about cooks out. Then spoon out vegetables into a casserole dish. Stir in grated cheese and cover with the mozzarella. Place in a pre-heated oven on 375 degrees until cheese is melted and you can see the casserole boiling. You can skip the cheese if you are vegan and you really don't have to stick to zucchini. I have made this more than once already with various squashes. This is one of those dishes that you end up making to your taste and what you have on hand. Also I choose to strain the liquid because I cook this in the oven and I don't want it to come out a liquid mess. However, you don't have to do that. You can serve it over rice or pasta and it makes a nice sauce. It comes out ridiculously good and there is really nothing in it calorie wise except for the cheese and the olive oil. If you try this, please let me know. I love it.