real-farmer@1020

I can’t remember how I stumbled on Kasha Bialas’s blog The Farm Girl Cooks, but I know I was immediately charmed by her photography and the clear integrity of her words about life on a working, small-scale farm, Bialas Farms, about 70 miles north of New York City. I asked her if she had anything she wanted to say on my site about the work. It turns out she did, about farm size, farm income, farm work, and what she would like you to know about buying from local farmers.—M.R.   By Kasha Bialas   I was raised on our 55-acre Orange County, NY, vegetable farm, as my father was before me, and as I’m raising my son now. Our family has owned and operated this business for 75 years. Sure, it sounds romantic, but it’s Read On »

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FM-suitcase-w-MR-@1020

Treat your farmers’ market like your grocery store. That’s my motto (when I’m not on the road). My problem, though, is I can no more carry all the goods in two arms than I can the goods from my actual grocery store. We used to have a red wagon and toted a two-year-old daughter along with dozens of ears of corn and other veg. But the wagon is long gone, and we don’t own a shopping cart or any kind of cart. Given how I’m always traveling, it was not a far stretch to put my bag to better use. That’s what I did ten days ago when I needed a lot of food for the week. Packed everything in a suitcase. Made everything so much easier. Takes up less room than a cart or a Read On »

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Barber-Moca-@1020

I had the great good fortune to interview Dan Barber before a sold-out crowd at Cleveland’s MOCA last night, talking to him about his fine book, The Third Plate (NYTimes review here). Barber, chef and owner of New York’s Blue Hill restaurant and maestro of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, is the most vocal and articulate chef soap-boxing for a sustainable food future. The problem has long been that, while he’s been very good at articulating the problems, he’s never had a realistic solution. Americans can’t completely opt out of the industrial food system by relying exclusively on CSAs and farmers’ markets (much as we cherish them). And chefs must cherry-pick the best ingredients if they are to keep their restaurants filled. Until this book, that is. Barber, through excellent reporting (how many chefs record interviews Read On »

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FM-comp-2014

  I’m finally home for a spell, long enough to plan out meals from my farmers’ market or, more precisely, growers’ market, and I was eager to see what was available this early in the season and after an uncommonly long, cold winter. Thanks to greenhouses there were plenty of greens, all kinds of them—kale, tatsoi, pea shoots, spinach, beet greens, basil. We have good local cheese makers so I picked up some sheep’s milk cheese and chèvre. Two dozen eggs, of course. Jason from Tea Hill Farms said, “Been so cold the chickens just don’t want to grow.” His chickens were just over two pounds and I bought a couple of them. They are so pristine, with firm, taut skin, they seem a different species from the ones in the grocery store. I bought oats and grits Read On »

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Toward the end of Forrest Pritchard‘s memoir Gaining Ground, about his becoming a livestock farmer, he writes a chapter that I want to call attention to, and expand on, as we are now at the height of farmers’ markets, and this is in fact national farmers market week. I requested a Q&A to address continual questions he gets from friends and customers. Forrest, why is food at the farmers’ market so expensive?! On our farm, the food we raise reflects our true cost of organic production. When we set our prices, we do exactly what every other business in America does: we factor in our expenses, and establish a modest profit margin. That way, we’ll always be around to farm the following year. It’s Economics 101. Everywhere we go, there’s a price-quality association in our Read On »

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