Spring is in the air, and seasonal produce is bountiful! I’m from Northern California, where farmers markets have been popular since I was young, and I was very pleased when I moved to Columbia by how many local farmers are at the Columbia Farmers Market, but I still get asked how to find local farmers.
One great resource is the directory of vendors on it Columbia Farmers Market’s website. Many individual farms or Missouri farmers have Facebook pages, as well.
I love using local seasonal ingredients for many reasons. I like knowing I’m supporting local farmers, families and our economy every time I buy locally and also that I know the exact practices used by each farmer and have transparency about the way they farm.
When I buy from a farmer, or a farmer’s market, I know the produce is the highest nutrient density possible for my body because most of the farmers we use pick their produce the morning of the delivery or farmers markets. Produce has the highest nutrients with the first 24-48 hours from being picked.
Springtime produce is abundant with lettuces of all varieties, which are great for switching up flavors, colors and nutrients in your salads, wraps, smoothies, juices, grilling or on top of tacos.
Lettuces are heart healthy, prevent insomnia, aid digestion, are an antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and are high in protein and omega-3s. As a bonus, their high-water content is extra hydration. I love using Three Creeks Produce, The Sage Garden and Happy Hallow farms for seasonal lettuces.
Other local springtime produce I use at Nourish are things such as carrots from The Veggie Patch, celery from Peggy’s Dome Garden, swiss chard from Happy Hallow, spinach from Share Life Farm, microgreens from Stem to Table, and onions from Three Creeks Produce. It’s always best to buy in bulk from the farmer for better pricing, if you can use that much produce up in your recipes, or by freezing them for later. Sometimes I will buy seasonal produce from farmers and freeze it so that it retains its nutritional value and I can use it later in the year. It is also good to try and use every part of the produce you buy so that you get your money’s worth. For example, if I get carrots, I’ll save the tops for carrot top pesto or juicing.
Perhaps what I use the most of during the springtime is kale. We go through 30 to 60 pounds a week at Nourish depending on the season. Kale yeah! We use local kale most of the year. Three Creeks Produce is our main supplier and is only available at Clovers Natural Markets and a few other select retailers. We also have used Share Life Farm and Happy Hallow Farm, which are both at the Columbia Farmers Market. My favorite way to make kale more enjoyable to eat is by marinating. We do this at Nourish for all our kale, whether it is raw in a salad or being sautéed for a bowl. Check out the marinated kale recipe below from my first cookbook, Happy Food Cookbook.
Paleo | Grain Free | Vegan
Preparation Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 bunch green curly kale, destemmed and roughly chopped
2-3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
Place kale in a metal bowl. Add avocado oil, garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt.
Massage kale by rubbing oil and seasoning into the kale gently with your hands until evenly coated. Serve cold as a side, as the lettuce in a salad, or you can sauté.
Kimber Dean is co-owner of Nourish Café in Columbia and the author of Happy Food and Happy Baking and Desserts. She is trained in both culinary arts and personal nutrition.