Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Bounty in Spearfish Valley

Fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruit are now in abundance in the Spearfish Valley. We visited three local markets open throughout the summer: Running's stand, The Farmer's Market and Gage's Gardens.

At Running's it's hard not to get corn because the stand is surrounded by rows of it and it is so fresh and delicious. I bought a dozen ears for $.50 each. Yes, that's a premium price but it's worth it. I always cut off the top just in case there is a worm in there; the only part of the corn that can be an unexpected surprise. Also in my bag were some Walla Walla and red onions. This is the only local farmer growing Walla Wallas, that I know of, and you can't beat these sweet onions.

At The Farmer's Market, I loaded up on a huge zucchini (my mom calls 'Wallies'), more red onions, a purple pepper, a basket of the sweetest cherry tomatoes, handful of small carrots, some red potatoes as well as two loaves of beer bread from the Wild Goose Bakery in Lead and a dozen of brown eggs from Sturgis. If you have not tried the bread from Wild Goose Bakery, I would highly recommend checking it out. Most of the loaves are $4.00 each. The beer bread is in a round and we have enjoyed it with bruschetta, brie and just by itself.

At Gage's Gardens, I picked up a muskmelon and seedless watermelon from Woonsocket. I have NEVER tasted a sweeter muskmelon. Imagine a cart full of huge melons and when you walk up to it you are greeted by a heady perfume of summer! That's what it smells like -- summer. And the watermelons are also amazing and so RED. I had to get another basket of cherry tomatoes as I had almost finished my first basket from The Farmer's Market, some larger red and orange tomatoes and a perfect peach from Colorado. The peach looks amazing and I can't wait to enjoy it. One more day it should be perfect. I also figured that a peach from Colorado is a better choice than a peach from California! I have to say that the people who work at Gage's are some of the nicest which adds to the whole experience of buying local.

This is the best time for Locavores in the Black Hills!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

In Search of a Local Dairy

We have yet to find a local dairy but I haven't really dug in and researched the possibility. Instead we are purchasing organic milk and cream. We are buying the Safeway O brand of milk ($5.79 a gallon) and half and half ($3.99 pint). They are expensive but are they worth it? That's an area I will do some research on. What exactly defines an organic dairy? I don't know. I am also purchasing organic Stonybrook Farms yogurt too. We have not found an organic supplier of cottage cheese. I haven't checked the options at Leuders either. Walmart carries Horizon (as does Safeway) but it's more expensive.

After finishing the book Farm Sanctuary, I find myself questioning how humane the animals destined for the table are being raised. The link above is the organization's website (founded by the author, Gene Baur) which is doing important work in the area of education and lobbying for the compassionate treatment of farm animals. While I do not see myself morphing into a vegetarian at this time, I'd like to make my food choices as smart and humane as possible. For example, although I have never eaten it, I will not eat fois gras which is made from diseased, fatty duck and goose livers. How people get those livers that way is not only a sad side of humanity; it's just mean and gross. I haven't heard of any local duck wranglers in SD making fois gras and it's not something I would search out anyway!