How to Become a Farmers' Market Free Spirit

How to Become a Farmers’ Market Free Spirit

Apr 21, 2016 by Christine

The farmers’ market, with all its small-batch this and heirloom that, can be simultaneously intimidating (Is that a vegetable? What the heck do you do with it?), eye-roll inducing (Seriously, if one more hipster says “sustainable”…), and inspiring (I’d eat salad every day with gorgeous greens like this).

For a couple years we floundered through it, clueless of the difference between sunchokes and artichokes, and ridden with vegetables-in-the-garbage guilt. We’d open the fridge, stare and stare, wishing there was someone to just tell us what to make. Then somewhere along the way we figured things out and discovered that life got a little better with the farmers’ market in it. Eating with the seasons led to a natural rhythm, eating quality local goods invested in our community, and waiting for sweet, spring strawberries (not the massive, white-in-the-middle ones) and other food that tasted like real food made us actually want to be in our kitchens. It’s the reason we started Huckle & Goose, to take out all that guesswork, so you can live #thathucklegooselife a lot faster and easier.

If you have visions of yourself breezing through the market with Alice Waters-esque ease, with that I-know-what-I’m-doing glow, chatting away with farmers, tucking away beautiful produce in your tote and effortlessly cooking with it throughout the week, this is where you begin. Ok, it’s not always so perfect—sometimes your toddler is loudly protesting the broccoli purchase and you don’t have that French woven basket owned by basically every Instagrammer—but nevertheless, this is the secret formula. Let’s get to work.

Step 1:

Decide where and when you’ll source ingredients.

Maybe you live in a bustling metropolis and have 13 markets to choose from within a mile radius, any day of the week. Or maybe you live in the middle of nowhere and nothing remotely fresh or organic is sold within reasonable driving distance. Maybe your full schedule means a delivery service or CSA. If you’re not sure where to start, email us your zip code and we’ll work together to determine your best options! The key is finding quality ingredients and narrowing down your decision-making so you can auto-pilot your routine.

If you have a sprawling weekend market in your town, with tons of vendors, that can get overwhelming fast. Spend the first few weeks buying sparingly, focusing on finding your favorite 3-5 vendors—become a regular at those stands. Not all farmers are certified organic or grow using natural methods, which is usually the number one way to whittle down options. Ask questions like, “How do you guys manage pests on the farm?” or “Can you tell me a little about your farming practices?” We love this question bank. This one and this one too. Asking questions can feel like you’re interrogating, but keep it confident and conversational even if you get a “bad” answer.

Step 2:

If you’re new to cooking with lots of fresh (sometimes unfamiliar) vegetables, start with 2 dinners and 1 breakfast in your Huckle & Goose plan. That’s it.

The rest of the week eat things that will give you nearly zero stress—frozen meals, instant oatmeal, takeout, other recipes you know by heart. This will allow you to focus and dedicate your energy on gradually incorporating this totally new way of eating without wanting to give up. And you’ll notice how differently you feel on those mornings and evenings when you invest the time. Read the recipes thoroughly before making them and check the shopping list for what you already have in your pantry.

Also, it’s important to us that we bring you only the best recipes. Ones that are foolproof, yet special and make your ingredients shine. You shouldn’t be stumbling through lots of “meh” meals, wasting quality produce to find things you love to cook.

Step 3:

In a couple weeks when you start feeling like a boss, gradually increase the number of meals you make at home. And start introducing unfamiliar vegetables—no more than one new type a week so you know you’ll be able to conquer them.

Soon enough, you won’t be avoiding eye contact with kohlrabis anymore.

Step 4:

Develop a mental rolodex of back-pocket recipes for each type of produce.

As your Huckle & Goose recipe repertoire expands and unfamiliar produce becomes familiar, you’ll naturally start having go-tos you’ve learned nearly by heart. When you come across something at the market, you’ll know instantly what to make and what other ingredients you need.

Step 5:

Whip things up, just like that.

This is the stage where you can open your fridge that has a few random ingredients and think of something delicious in less than 3 minutes. Or your CSA box shows up and you can create the week’s menu off the top of your head.

It’s second nature to keep a mental note of everything that’s in your pantry and you use techniques like this to get creative.

Pin away!