Monday, January 17, 2011

Locavore Shopping South Florida Style January 2011

As a farm-to-table journalist I prefer to buy produce and meat local to wherever I am staying. Currently, I am in South Florida.

I started my search for local items on Saturday, at the West Palm Beach Green Market held at Waterfront Commons in downtown West Palm Beach, Florida.

I bought salad greens and flowers, organically grown in hydroponic shade houses, from Swank Specialty Produce (Loxahatchee, Fla.); cucumbers, organically grown in soil, from D and D U-Pick and CSA Farms (Palm City, Fla.); and heirloom tomatoes, grown hydroponically in greenhouses, from Farmhouse Tomatoes (Boynton Beach, Fla.).

On Sunday, I went to the Parkland Farmers' Market, located at the Equestrian Center at 8350 Ranch Road in Parkland, Florida.

I bought raw honey from the Broward Beekeepers Association (Coconut Creek, Fla.); ground grass-fed beef from Arrowhead Beef (Chipley, Fla.); spicy cooked collard greens from caterer Misty Wings and Greens of Palm Beach (Palm Beach County, with collards from Georgia), and jams from a regional company called Appalachian Harvest (Cashiers, North Carolina).

On the way home, I stopped at the West Palm Beach service plaza (mile post 94), and bought red navel oranges from Al's Family Farms (Ft. Pierce, Fla.).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Garlic USA Style

Garlic, Chinese or American. Which way will you buy?
China produces 66 percent of the world's garlic supply and controls 50 percent of the US market, according to John Duffus of the Garlic Company located in Bakersfield, California. The Garlic Company is a significant player in the US market. According to Duffus Californian garlic has a more traditional garlic aroma whereas Chinese garlic tends to be more pungent or hotter in flavor. And although the Californian variety tends to cost more than the Chinese garlic, it is the preferred choice of American chefs.

The smallest container size The Garlic Company sells is one bushel at approximately $60 not including shipping. This might seem expensive but as Duffus puts it, "When you consider that garlic tends to be sold by the bulb the price we are charging is quite reasonable."

Chinese garlic reacts differently in olive oil than does Californian garlic according to Lupe Peralta, Manager of Harvest Time Market formerly located in Lantana, Florida (Now closed). Peralta a former sous chef says, "You can tell the difference between the two garlics just by adding olive oil. The American garlic will have a soft yellow color to it while the Chinese garlic will turn red."

There are some boutique garlic farms in the United States that grow ten plus varieties of specialty garlic. One such farm is Logan Berry Heritage Farm in Cleveland, Georgia. Owner Sharon Turner Mauney, a fifth generation farmer, sells her garlic for between $16 to $18 a pound. This might seem like a lot but you have to realize she has several hard to find varieties.

Both Logan Berry Heritage Farm and The Garlic Company work with the public and welcome inquires.