Saturday July 14, 2012 5th and High St., 7am-12noon
You better believe your local farmers are happy about the more moderate temperatures that have moved into the area, and with continuing chances of rain in the forecast, prospects are looking up. The past month's weather has been challenging to say the least, and it's a testament to the hard work and professionalism of SKY Market farmers that they're still bringing an abundance of fresh local produce to market.
It's high summer and a great time of year to visit the SKY Farmers Market! Now that the weather has turned for the better, we can also better appreciate all the marvelous tastes, colors, and aromas that July has to offer. Abundance and variety abound! Just about everything you'll need, for any and every meal can be found at the market, now.
Whether it is sweet and satisfying summer strawberries, peaches and melons, corn, beans and potatoes, okra, garlic and onions, peppers, eggplant or tomatoes, cabbage, squash and cucumbers, the list of fresh locally grown produce goes on and on... Add in meat, cheese, fresh breads, milk and eggs, a bottle of wine and a bouquet of flowers, and let the good life caress you in it's tender embrace.
It's all waiting for you at the SKY Farmers Market!
See you there!
Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes,
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes?
Only two things that money can't buy,
That's true love and homegrown tomatoes.
Finally, a break from that hot and thirsty weather! Some of us were even fortunate to get some rain this past week. Others are still fretfully counting the days until it's their turn. This recent bout of extreme weather has proved challenging and even devastating to many in our region. For farmers, who have little choice but to abandon their fates to Nature, it has been tough, indeed.
One plant family that can tolerate high temperatures is the Solanaceae or nightshades. Plants like potatoes, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes, as well as other flowering plants like pansies and tobacco actually like it hot. While prolonged periods of relentlessly high temperatures can interfere with proper pollination and stress plants into aborting flowers and fruit, our recent desert-like conditions actually helped a bit as much cooler nighttime temperatures gave plants a slight reprieve. Farmers with the resources to provide ample moisture are busily harvesting these crops as this summer season starts to peak; fulfilling the promise that is July in Kentucky.
Hands down, the tomato wears the crown in the court of summer produce. If we're going to grow just one vegetable, more than likely it will be the one. A fresh, ripe homegrown tomato is one of life's sublime gifts and high summer is the tomato's time to shine! Heirlooms and hybrids, grapes and cherries, pastes and beefsteaks, are all bursting with amazing flavors. Summer eating essentially means "tomatoes and...?"
So enjoy it while it's here and be sure to store some away by freezing, canning or drying. Although it can last a few months, when the summery weather goes, so does that incredible tomato.
Southern Tomato Pie
One pie crust
4 - 5 large ripe tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cloves minced or pressed garlic
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1cup shredded mozzarella
fresh chopped basil, parsley and scallions, to taste
1 cup mayonnaise
6 or 7 slices pre-cooked bacon cut into thin strips
HEAT pie shell at 350 for about 10-12 minutes
MIX cheeses, herbs, onion, garlic, bacon and mayo in medium bowl
SLICE tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick , sprinkle with salt
SPREAD half of the cheese mixture on the pie crust
LAYER with tomato slices and remaining mixture, ending with tomatoes on top
GARNISH with more herbs
BAKE 30-35 minutes until crust is golden and juices are bubbling
ALLOW to cool at least 10 minutes before cutting
Book Review: Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by Barry Estabrook
Barry Estabrook set out to answer a simple question. Why is it that supermarket tomatoes are so disappointing? He rounded up the usual suspects: fruits picked green and artificially ripened with ethylene gas; a continuous fog of chemical pesticides, several of them amongst the most malignant poisons on the planet; varieties bred for uniform size and color and to withstand the rigors of long-distance shipping and mass-marketing.
But along the way, he discovered stories of widespread, systematic disregard, abuse, and exploitation of field workers that will turn the unappealing flavor of that cold and impersonal fast food tomato to ash in your mouth.
If you've ever eaten a winter tomato from the grocery store or a fast food joint, what do you think are the chances that you've bought a fruit that was picked by a slave? According to Douglas Molloy, United States attorney for Florida's Middle District, it's not a chance, it's a certainty. As a prosecutor in Florida's tomato growing district, Molloy has made a specialty of prosecuting slavery cases. At any given time, he's working on half a dozen or more cases. Not virtual slavery or slave-like conditions, but actual chained-to-a-post, armed guards, starved and beaten, bought and sold slavery, right here and right now in the United States.
In the past fifteen years, Florida law enforcement has freed over a thousand slaves forced to work in the state's tomato fields. And that's just the few that have been found. For complex judicial, social, political, and cultural reasons, most modern American slavery goes unreported.
The Florida Modern Day Slavery Museum on Tour
Stories of tomato workers are at the heart of this book and paint a picture of the systematic disdain, exploitation, abuse, and even brutality they face doing the lowest paid work in the country, and some of the hardest and most dangerous.
Yolanda Cisneros tells the story of working in a crew behind a tractor that was injecting fumigant into the soil. They were told not to worry, it wouldn't hurt them even though it burned their eyes and made them dizzy. The manager driving the tractor got off to replace a drum of pesticide. As he was connecting a new drum, a small jet of pesticide squirted onto his leg. He began screaming and tearing off his clothes. He dove into a ditch and began scrubbing at himself frantically. As the bemused workers looked on, a truck came lurching through the field, not even taking the roads, just cutting straight across the newly laid rows. Another supervisor helped him into the back of the truck and went speeding away toward town. You can imagine the exchange of looks and raised eyebrows amongst the workers who were wading through the same stuff every day.
Another worker tells of stepping in a wet ditch to reach a row of plants he was working on. When he took a shower that night, his toenails flaked off. There's a story of the men who escaped from the box truck where they were being held as slaves. A notorious local drug dealer, the first person they met, helped them gain their freedom by contacting the police. Stories of birth defects, squalid labor camps, cruel bosses, unfair pay, one after another they tell the story of working in modern industrial agriculture.
Tomatoland tells the story of what can happen when food is grown as a commodity and its production becomes industrialized and impersonal. The conditions of large scale industrial agriculture, though often distant and abstract, have a direct influence on our well-being. The stories in Tomatoland show how cheap industrial food commodities can injure us, body and soul, and how the many threads of its influence can debase us all, though we may not even realize it.
Tomatoland, by Barry Estabrook, Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011.
Tim Brelig and Kellie Diamond of Falling Springs Flower Farm edit the SKY Farmers Market Newsletter. You'll find them at the market every Saturday.