August 10, 2006

A lifetime learning - Lessons at the local farmer's market

When they talk about healthy food, they usually mean things that don't taste very good.” -Julia Child (1912-2004)

I've been all around the bay area in the last few days -- who'd have guessed I'd learn about a new vegetable at my local-est farmers' market visit of the week.

As my experiments with eating locally have evolved, I find myself more curious about my food, where it's come fron and how it's prepared -- which provokes me to ask questions of the vendors at the market when I spot something that piques my curiosity. Today a "fuzzy cucumber" caught my attention.

The young lady from Bautista Farms (she couldn't have been more than 14) was proud to tell my that my "cucumber" was in fact a bitter melon -- appropriately named since it's one of the most bitter vegetables cultivated, renowned in eastern cultures for its medicinal value. "It's rich in nutrients and antioxidants" she said like a nutritionist. "Many cultures use it as a dietary treatment from everything from diabetes to malaria".


"How do you cook it?" I prompted.

"Stir-fry or cut up in salad" she responded, cutting open a sample to show me how to remove the seeds. She went on to warn that she wouldn't advise cooking it with other vegetables -- the bitterness would overwhelm them.

Hmmm... okay.

In the end, I passed on the melon -- but added it to my list for more extensive research.

Danville Certified Farmers' Market
Andronico's Parking Lot, Railroad & Prospect Streets
Thursdays 4-8 PM (through September 14, 2006)
Saturdays 9 AM - 1 PM, year round

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