Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim ...”
Gerald Manley Hopkins got it right when he described the glory of “dappled things” in his poem, “Pied Beauty.”
It’s a dappled time of year, spring, with bright spots of color punctuating the landscape and the leaping green spirit of trees and a robin’s egg blue of sky that promise summer. The patchwork of freshly tilled soil and the newly planted high tunnels, familiar and ubiquitous, remind us of why we live here: to be close to the land and to enjoy its bounty.
Nowhere can people with appetites get closer to that dappled bounty than at the Farmers Market in Cortez on Saturday mornings (www.cortezfarmmarket.com). Yes, it’s time once again to reconnect ourselves to our local food source. The farmers market will kick off its season on Saturday, June 6 at 109 West Main (the courthouse parking lot) and will continue every Saturday morning from 7:30 -11:30 through October.
Salad greens are always the first to strut their stuff at the farmer’s market. According to health writer and food activist Jo Robinson in her book Eating on the Wild Side, the most nutritious salad greens are red, purple, and reddish brown. Their deep coloring comes from nutrients called anthocyanins which are “powerful antioxidants that show great promise in fighting cancer, lowering blood pressure, slowing age-related memory loss, and even reducing the negative effects of eating high-sugar and high-fat foods.”
The second most nutritious greens are the dark green varieties. These have the nutrient lutein, which, says Robinson, is another potent antioxidant shown to protect eye health and calm inflammation. Lettuce varieties with the palest colors, like iceberg, provide the fewest health benefits.
Fortunately, we can anticipate a colorful variety of looseleaf greens sprouting up at the farmers market. Green onions and rhubarb too will await the early shopper on Saturday says long-time vendor, Lee Hill.
The fresher the greens, the more flavorful and nutritious they will be. Most, if not all of the greens at the farmers market, are picked within 24 hours of their appearance on the food stands. Many local farmers pick in the wee hours of the morning before transporting them to the market. Shoppers can be guaranteed of produce that has spent very little time in transit, has not been languishing in cold storage or on supermarket shelves, but is bursting with life-supporting goodness.
A word about storing your salad greens to retain their maximum health benefits. After getting them home, separate the leaves and plunge them into a cold-water bath for a few minutes to remove dirt and to lower their temperature, helping to preserve and keep them crisp.
Dry thoroughly in a salad spinner or with towels; moisture on the outside of the leaves hastens decomposition, so make sure they’re good and dry. Put the greens in a resealable plastic bag, squeeze out the air – careful not to crush the leaves – and then prick the bag with a pin 10-20 times depending on the size of the bag. The tiny pinpricks enable an exchange of gases allowing the greens to breathe, thus slowing deterioration while retaining the humidity inside the bag. Store in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator and eat sooner rather than later to maximize the health benefits of these superfoods.
Springtime greens don’t require a heavy dressing. And there’s no need to spend $3 or $4 on a bottle of dressing – you can easily make your own with ingredients you already have in the door of your refrigerator. This recipe is from Eating On the Wild Side. Two of its ingredients – honey and mustard – will tone down any bitterness from the greens.
The Parsnippet hopes to be a slice of life for residents of Montezuma County. Real. Nourishing. 100% homegrown. See you at the farmers market.