A Food & Travel Blog

Farmers Markets, Shopping Lists & Maple Caramel Pecan Shortbread

24/10/2013 | By

 Caramel Pecan Shortbread

When it comes to efficient supermarket shopping and saving money, they say there are a few good rules to remember  – take a shopping list, know where everything is in the store so you don’t get distracted and never go shopping while hungry as you’ll buy more than you need. However, you need to throw those rules away when shopping in a farmers market, because the ideal way to make the most of the experience and get the best of the seasonal produce available is to do the exact opposite!

When visiting your local farmers market – and I would urge you to do so, for a whole heap of reasons – the best plan of action is to firstly do a quick reconnoitering lap of all the stalls to work out what looks best on that particular day, whose prices you like and also to give you time to think about what you might make with the produce available. Once you’ve done your “reccy” it’s time to get out the purse and shopping bag and get serious. It’s also important to be realistic about how much to buy – there’s no point in buying a whole heap of magnificent fresh produce if you are not going to have the time or resources to cook it all up and store it before it spoils.

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Adelaide Showground Farmers Market & Adelaide Central Market – what’s the difference?

05/03/2012 | By

I know many of my readers are very interested in food production methods, future food security and finding out ways that they can encourage fresh produce diversity, support local producers and retain some control over their food choices.  There are lots of everyday ways that the average consumer can help control their food choices and these include growing at least some of their own fresh food, shopping at farmers markets and supporting smaller, local food producers, suppliers and retailers, rather than the huge supermarket food chains.  Obviously, these retail choices are going to vary depending upon where you live, but I just wanted to focus on two quite significant sources of produce here in Adelaide who, between the two of them, offer residents and visitors an extraordinary range of local and imported fresh food products while at the same time supporting small local businesses.

The Adelaide Central Market, in the centre of Adelaide, has been the heart of fresh food supply for the city and suburbs for the last 140 years.  From humble beginnings  in 1869, when a small group of market gardeners gathered together to sell their produce to the public it has now grown to a vibrant, culturally diverse group of over 80 stall-holders housed behind the historic facade which borders Gouger Street on the southern side and Grote Street on the northern side.

Most (but not all) of the market gardeners have long gone but, in their place, are family held stalls, some of whom have been nurturing relationships with both their growers and their retail customers for generations.  Over the years the genre of some of the stalls has evolved and changed and the market as we know it today is a vibrant community of traders, artisans and shoppers, all of whom share a passion for food.  Adelaide Central Market is the place to find all manner of fresh fruit and vegetables, local and imported meats and smallgoods, an obscure ingredient for your multicultural cuisine, the very best of Australian seafood, imported coffees and teas, exclusive and unique imported cheeses for a special dinner party or simply an exciting, buzzing atmosphere to do your fresh-food shopping.  A trip to the market is a long-standing tradition in many families and many stall-holders watch their customers grow up from infants to adults, checking on them periodically during school holidays, as my children can attest.  Once the shopping work is done, it offers plenty of traditional or funky cafés where you can grab a coffee or a meal and sit back and relax while watching the world go by.  In short, it is an exceptional and vital piece of the culinary heritage of Adelaide and simply a gastronome’s delight.

A more recent, and every bit as significant, fresh food supplier has also taken root and gradually spread it’s branches in the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Showgrounds.   I last wrote about the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market back in October of last year when it was celebrating it’s 5th birthday and it continues to grow from strength to strength.  Farmers markets continue to grow in popularity, popping up in carparks and open spaces in cities and towns, big and small, all over the world.  Selling fresh produce, dairy products, meat, local seafoods and smallgoods as well as artisan food products, the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market offers farmers and small producers the opportunity to sell direct to the public in a low-cost, secure alternative to restrictive and limiting contracts with large wholesalers or  the uncertain patronage and returns of farm-gate sales.   Because a farmers market allows the growers to get to know their customers and their needs, many producers are encouraged into planting smaller, more diverse, organic  and/or  heritage crops which they might otherwise have difficulty producing in wholesale marketable amounts.

The gains for consumers are equally as important, providing them with a direct link to the source of their food choices, returning a sense of seasonality to their tables as the produce is all sourced and grown locally and maximising the nutritional content of the food as it hasn’t been transported for long distances to get to the market.  The consumers have the opportunity to develop relationships with the growers, developing an understanding of the vagaries food production and sharing in the seasonal riches. Further, the money they spend on their weekly fresh food shopping stays within and enriches the local community, rather than going into the pockets of international supermarket chain owners and off-shore shareholders.  The Adelaide Showgound Farmers Market is a community owned and operated organisation which promotes the practice of sustainable food production and the produce of South Australia and, like it’s more mature colleague, is an essential and dynamic ingredient in the comestible character of Adelaide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market!

08/10/2011 | By

A couple of posts ago I had a little chat about Oxfam‘s new global food campaign “GROW” which aims for a world in which “everyone, everywhere has enough to eat, always”.   Their comprehensive report very clearly sets out the issues and also offers suggestions for ways in which individuals and governments can work towards the goal of food security for everyone.   This is a daunting issue and can be overwhelming, but the solutions are right in front of us and some of us may not even be aware that we are already making choices which are part of the solution.  If we wish to act to help solve this food dilemma, Oxfam suggests that we become informed and learn more about the issue and that we make the effort to choose food for ourselves and our families which is produced fairly and sustainably – and if you are one of the growing number of consumers who are shopping in a farmers market, that is exactly what you are doing!  Here in Adelaide our state farmers market, the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market (ASFM), has just turned five and I figured this was an ideal time to take a look at just what this very successful example of the genre is contibruting to consumers and growers.

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Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market producers

29/09/2010 | By

… WITH JAM ON IT – RUBY SPOON JAM!

My first glimpse of Ruby Spoon jams, on my first visit to the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market, was brief – a quick peek of jewel coloured jams on little dishes, fleetingly sighted in between the crush of children and adults who clustered round the stand.  Bracing myself, I elbowed my way through the crowd to find out what all the fuss was about, strategically placing myself front and centre of a very impressive array of jam sampling dishes!

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Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market producers – Fruitwise

25/08/2010 | By

FRUITWISE

Anyone who has ever unpacked a child’s schoolbag at the end of the week (or worse, at the end of the holidays) knows what they are going to find lurking in the dark depths of a backpack.  If it is only a few withered apples or an orange or two, you are in luck, because there is not much nastier to plunge your hands into than a couple of soft, mushy, blackened bananas!  Most of us try to give our kids a relatively healthy school lunch and that always includes a piece of fruit, or two, but there are plenty of kids out there who occasionally don’t get around to eating them.  While there are “big brand” dried fruit sticks and fruit leathers available in the stores that are often more attractive than fruit to children, they are generally made with the added sugars, colours and preservatives that we are advised to minimise in our kids diets.  But one local producer is marketing a fruit leather that we can feel very happy about putting in the lunchboxes.

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Future food plans – how secure is our food production?

04/08/2010 | By

Now that the Masterchef fever that gripped Australia is fading, we are being subjected to the onslaught of a merciless election campaign with cynical, vote-grabbing promises being hurled about from all sides.   I suppose I am not alone in feeling jaded and disenchanted by the modern political landscape, but I fervently hope for a bit of sincerity in the announcement by  the Labor party that they intend to develop and implement a national food plan.  Tony Abbott seems reluctant to address this issue, but with their fondness for one-upping each other, lets hope that the Libs will come up with a similar idea, too.

Food security is an issue which should be on the minds of us all and if you don’t know why, then please have a wander over to the ABC’s story, “Selling the Farm” parts 1 and 2.  Good quality, arable land is being bought up in large parcels by international interests both here in Australia and overseas.  Presumably this is bought with a view to securing future food supply, but often the productive land is given over to the growing of bio-fuels instead of food.   Alternative fuel supplies are all very well – but what are we going to eat?  Overseas, this is occurring cheifly in Africa where, in some countries, productive farming land lies unused – often because of inefficient and/or corrupt governments.  In one instance – in Ethiopia, a country regularly in need of food aid – the government is offering 7.5 million acres of its most fertile land for sale to wealthy countries!  Here in Australia – a dry country, dependent upon very limited water resources -we are selling up water rights with the land.  One internationally owned company now owns 45% of  almonds under cultivation in Australia plus 89,000 megalitres of water and another, registered in the Caymans, is making a bid for Cubbie Station with it’s enormous and unsustainable water license.

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