Here are a few new ways to cook with corn and zucchini,
some of my favorite farmers market bargains:
Chicago is famous for its abundant farmers markets. From
Andersonville to Beverly and all through the suburbs, practically
every neighborhood and town has its own market. Whether you are
looking for flowers, bread, cheese or fruit, you can find familiar
and unusual varieties-all fresh and locally grown or made. Some of
the larger markets even have entertainment, such as chef
demonstrations, programs for kids and live music.
Yes, the Chicago farmers markets are truly one of the
city's gems. But, boy, can the produce be expensive! If you have
ever balked at paying $6 for a tiny half-pint of berries, you know
what I am talking about. It can cost more to eat local, and while
that is a trade-off some families are willing to make, what about
folks with a tight grocery budget? Are farmers markets off-limits
Absolutely not! Farmers market produce isn't always more
expensive than its supermarket equivalent. In fact, farmers market
produce often is cheaper than organic supermarket produce by as
much as 40 percent, according to a 2011 study. There even is
farmers market produce that compares favorably in price to
conventional supermarket produce.
So, if you love the idea of eating locally but aren't
willing to pay more for the privilege, look for these farmers
Fresh herbs are very pricey at the supermarket but usually
you can score a huge bunch for only a few dollars at the farmers
market. Combine herbs-not just basil!-with oil, garlic and nuts to
Corn usually costs 50 cents an ear at the farmers market,
but if you buy a dozen, it's only $5. Cut the extra cooked kernels
off the cob and use them in corn pudding, salsa or
You typically can buy three zucchini for $2 during summer
and fall. Don't be tempted to buy the biggest ones though. Smaller,
younger zucchini taste sweeter.
One of my favorite farmers market bargains! In season, red
peppers sell for 75 cents-$1 each at the farmers market. At the
supermarket, they often are twice that. Throw peppers on the grill
and use any leftovers in pasta, on pizza or on
Studies have found that melon, peas,
cucumbers are good buys at
The other way to save money at the farmers market is to
buy in bulk. A flat of strawberries, which is eight quarts, is
often the same price as six individual quarts. Buying in bulk is
only a savings, however, if you use or preserve what you buy before
it goes bad.
Canning and pickling is one way to preserve fresh produce,
but if that seems a little too involved, try freezing. Whole
berries and pitted cherries freeze exceptionally well and taste
great in baked goods or smoothies. Or, consider joining together
with a friend or neighbor and splitting what you buy. Toward the
end of the season, stock up on root vegetables and squash, which
will keep for weeks in the refrigerator.
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