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Brave New World
The current forms of lockdown, which unfortunately vary from state to state, have catapulted online grocery shopping into the mainstream. Once the purview of the likes of PeaPod, now it’s an everyday offering from grocery chains and even some restaurants. The scramble to score a delivery time slot has replaced frantic searches for concert or Caps tickets in the good old pre-virus days. If we shop in person, we carefully calibrate the best time, and we have to be attired correctly. We know now to wipe down every inch of shopping carts, stand apart from one another, and wear gloves while picking produce and sundries. Some of us (I wish I were one!) dress up with wonderful costumes that cover the mouth and protect the hands. Alas, for those of us who love going to Farmers’ Markets as a rite of spring, the coronavirus pandemic has erased yet another joyful outing.
Small Farmers Online
But the joyous news is that certain farmers and market gardeners are utilizing online sales platforms for direct shipping home delivery, or designated curbside pick up. And I am thrilled. As one of my favorite producers said, “I have a lot of inventory coming out of the ground, and I need to sell it!” I’m guessing the list will grow, but here is a selection of vendors you can still enjoy. These are all in my neighborhood of make-believe, but from what I have been reading, there are lots of farmers across the US that are forming online shopping opportunities which will benefit you and sustainable local farming.
San Giovanis Farm opens their online market mid-week, and you can arrange a pick-up at their farm (which I actually want to do as a drive with a picnic along the way) or pick up at one of his designated spots. Sign up for his emails if you are in this area, and don’t dawdle with your order as I did once and missed my husband’s favorite lettuce: Phil Barrow’s baby romaine. Caesar salad will never be the same.
Waterpenny Farm at the Arlington Farmers’ Market is our Holy Grail for tomatoes. And their eggs are my favorite too. Their selection of tomatoes makes my head spin. My husband has a long standing summer tradition of making BLTs. (we’re still having arguments about the mayonnaise). But he waits for the Waterpenny tomatoes. The by-products of the Pollard BLT Mania are two-fold- the tomato ends (only the central slices are used) and the bacon grease are saved. Actually my Italianized daughter was horrified when she saw the amount of wasted tomato that was discarded from the Pollard BLT production. I now freeze them and make Domenica Marchetti’s Italian Tomato Sauce when I have about 3lbs worth. The bacon grease goes into the classic Southern grease can with screen filter. When I have enough, I make my version of my mother-in-law’s superior fried chicken. Waterpenny offers CSA subscriptions as well as online ordering, which varies according to harvest, so check often. I love the video that was produced on their farm, telling the story of how they reclaimed the land and how they grow. It is good news from the earth.
Local From Far Away
The markets that we go to in normal times are Market Square in Old Town, the Arlington Farmers’ Market, and the FarmFresh on Dupont Circle on Sundays. We joke that the Dupont Circle market is our church. All of them have now organized lists of which of their farmers can provide some sort of delivery. If you shop at the Old Town Farmers’ Market these vendors offer delivery or pick-up services.The Arlington Farmers’ Market has now joined the Fresh Farm community and this list will give you the farmers and vendors of food products that are at several locations, including the one on Sunday at DuPont Circle.
But here are a few of my favorites. We have struggled to find good seafood in this area. And while it is a stretch to say it is “local”, Cold Country Salmon has provided us with first-rate salmon and halibut (it is obviously frozen, but oh my goodness, even so, it is so much better than what I can find drooping on ice elsewhere). This family-run company has teamed up with a really talented sausage maker, Meat Crafters and you can get some of their selections as well. Something unfortunate happened in the US when sausage making was rediscovered – no one puts enough fat in the mix and the seasoning is usually off. Reading through their About Us section, it is revealed that Alex Mejia may have his hand on the sausage-making wand. Our mushroom source (after a few bad experiences with those we found in our grocery stores) at all the markets is King Mushrooms and they will ship fresh and dried as well. Mushrooms keep well in the fridge and even when they dry out from being neglected, rehydrating them fixes them up almost like new. Twin Springs Farm is at several markets in the area and offers CSA-style boxes for pick-up. Their celery, which is available in the fall, is what celery dreams are made of! It is hard to grow properly, and Twin Springs is one of the few farms that takes the time and care to produce it. Use the leaves to make celery salt. Celery soup and, more importantly your Bloody Mary will be vastly improved!
After owning one of the best cooking stores in the US for 47 years, Nancy Pollard writes a blog about food in all its aspects – recipes, film, books, travel, superior sources and food related issues.