Smart Tips For Using Up Your Entire Farmer’s Market Haul

Smart Tips For Using Up Your Entire Farmer’s Market Haul

This article first appeared on Mind Body Green.

Nobody likes throwing food in the trash—it’s a waste of money and resources that ladders up into a global issue: We never eat roughly one-third of all the food we produce.

While composting your scraps is a step in the right direction, avoiding them altogether is even better. Wen-Jay Ying, the founder of Local Roots, is on a mission to help New Yorkers do just that. “I see a lot of people saying that eating food that looks funny is a way to fight food waste. I think it’s important to evolve that conversation since most food waste happens in the kitchen, whether it’s at home or in a restaurant,” she tells mbg.

Ying’s company connects people with fresh produce, meats, and cheeses that have been grown within 250 miles of the city, distributing it at pickup locations around NYC. The CSA program also adds a layer of education by offering sustainable cooking tips and opportunities to build community.

Ying was given the Entrepreneur of the Year award by Mayor Bloomberg when she started the company in 2011 at age 26, and since then she’s noticed how the rise of social media has fundamentally changed our relationship to food. On one hand, platforms like Instagram have given us unparalleled access to farmers and the people making our food. On the other, they’ve placed a lot of importance on how our meals look.

According to Ying, helping the planet with your next meal means adopting little routines in the kitchen to help your food go further, no matter aesthetics. Here, she shares some of her favorite ways to make the most of every part of your market haul this time of year.


The stems of swiss chard and kale are edible, and she likes to either braise them or get a little more creative and pickle them. You can either reuse the brine from a pickle jar or make your own using a combination of apple cider vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and whatever else you feel like throwing in. The result is delicious on salads and sandwiches.

Pickling is a way to extend the shelf life of summer fruits too, like watermelon rinds. And Ying’s already looking forward to fall when she can pickle apples in her new favorite brine: “I’ll put in cinnamon, curry powder, and ginger in there for spice—the result is super delicious on tacos!”


Herbs have a tendency to go bad before you get to use them all up, especially when you’re buying larger bundles. Pro tip: Think of leafy herbs like cilantro and parsley like you would a bouquet of flowers. Put them in a small glass filled about halfway with water—the water should only touch the stems, not the base of the the leaves—and put a plastic bag over them (make sure to reuse this week after week!). If you see the water turning a funky color, swap it out. And voila! Your herbs will stay fresh for a week or so—longer if you bought them fresh from a local market.

As for woody herbs like rosemary and thyme, Ying like to use them as double-duty decor. “I’ll tie the sprigs with yarn and hang them upside down in my kitchen. This will dry them out—so I always have dried herbs to use!”

In order to use up other produce before it spoils, you might want to make your fridge a little more organized. Bundling things like leafy leafy greens, fruits, and root veggies together can help you remember exactly what you have and what needs to be used up first.

Tops and skins

Yes, you can eat the tops of veggies like carrots, radish, and turnips. You can either have them raw (Ying notes that turnips in particular have a nice spicy flavor) or work them into a pesto. Same goes for the skin of carrots and beets, and they’re typically packed with nutrients.


You’re probably already adding egg shells to your compost—but there are plenty of creative ways to harness their benefits. Ying says that adding a few (clean!) crushed shells to coffee grounds can help balance out the bitterness of your brew. Or, you can can grind them into a calcium-rich supplement. More on how to do that safely here.

Everything else

“I really think making vegetable broth is the easiest thing to do with food scraps,” she says. “Pretty much any food scrap you have—besides something like hot peppers—can be frozen in a container and added to a pot of boiling water for 30 minutes for an awesome veggie broth.”

Importance of Teaching Kids Where Food Comes From

Importance of Teaching Kids Where Food Comes From


Ty, age 4, stared with wonder at the long orange vegetable with the big green leaves coming out of the top. “What is this?” he asked his Dad. His Dad replied, “That’s a carrot.” “That’s a carrot?” asked Ty. “I thought carrots were those little orange things that come in plastic bags.”

Recent marketing data has shown that there has been an upsurge in families planting vegetable gardens. Although we tend to see the popularity of backyard gardens rise during harder economic times, they are valuable for more than financial reasons. Food education is an opportunity for children to learn about where food comes from and to establish a healthy relationship with food.

A by-product of less and less time outdoors and a trend for many U.S. families is that fewer children get first-hand experience with food sources. In days past, more of us had backyard gardens or visited a farm of family members or friends. We may have gotten to pick apples from the tree or ground, collect eggs from the hen house, or harvest beans off the plants. Today, many children only experience food coming from a grocery store.

Reconnecting our children to food’s origins can build their conceptual understanding of food sources, while also providing an opportunity to form healthy eating habits and learn about the environmental implications of growing organically or transporting food long distances.

Here are a few suggestions to introduce the idea of food source to your children.

Plant your own vegetable garden. A vegetable or edible garden can be as small or large as you would like or your space accommodates. Even having one cherry tomato plant in a container on your porch or patio gives your child a chance to experience the growing and harvesting cycle of local foods. Some regions sponsor community or urban gardens where several families who don’t have gardening space can farm a small plot together.

Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group. Many farms now offer locally grown, often organic, foods by subscription. A family purchases a “share” of a local farm and receives a bag, box or credit towards fresh fruits and veggies that they pick up each week. Purchasing shares help guarantee the farmer’s subsistence and the food is seasonal and fresh off the farm.

The pick-up place for the vegetables is often the farm itself. This can become a fun and educational experience for your children. The foods each week may include some you or your children have never seen before like turnips, kale, or red beets. But learning more about these foods and where their daily servings of vegetables come from can become a family educational adventure. Learning about all sorts of vegetables and food sources can also be easier to get kids to try new foods. Some CSAs also offer opportunities to work on the farm.

Consider eating one “seasonal” meal each week. This would mean only using fruits and vegetables that are in season, not grown in different climates and shipped from far away. If you shop at farmers markets or join a CSA, this is easy, because they only carry seasonal items. Older children might enjoy making a chart of when their favorite fruits and vegetables are available locally and can look forward to their purchase.

Visit the local farmers market with your children. While your children probably won’t get to see where the actual food is grown, they will typically see unpackaged foods and some foods and vegetables they are unfamiliar with. They may even get to talk to the farmer. Or you can make a visit to the farm or farmers market more interesting for children using a few of the following ideas.

Encourage conversations between your child and the farmer about the available fruits and vegetables. Older children can keep a market journal. Questions to ask:
– Where is your farm located?
– What kind of tomato/lettuce/etc. is this?
– When was this vegetable/fruit picked?
– What produce will you have next week?

Engage young children in using their senses:
– What does the vegetable/fruit feel like? Is it bumpy or smooth? Is it hard or soft?
– What does the vegetable/fruit look like? What color is it? What shape?
– What does the vegetable/fruit sound like when you tap it? Is it hollow? Does it sound like a drum?
– What does the vegetable/fruit smell like? Does it have a strong smell or no smell?
– What does the vegetable/fruit taste like? Do you think it will be juicy or dry? Sweet or salty? Let’s go home and give it a taste.

Create a Market Scavenger Hunt:
– Create a grocery list before going to the farmers market.
– Have your child help locate the items on the list.
– Use check marks or stickers to show the item as complete.
– Consider a “freebie” square for an item that the child can pick.

Allow children to experience many different markets:
– Talk about the differences and similarities between each.
– Older children can add this to their farmers market journal.
– Find markets with children’s entertainment or educational events.
– Meet friends for a play date or picnic at the market.

Reinforce the food education at home:
– Have children compare produce from the grocery store with produce from the farmers market. Do they look the same? Feel the same? Smell the same? Taste the same?
– Create a “food map.” Using a world or U.S. map, highlight regions by category. Have children mark on the map where the produce they eat in a week comes from. (NOTE: By law, all stores need to label the Country of Origin for all produce).




10 Ways to Support the Next Generation of Farmers

10 Ways to Support the Next Generation of Farmers


Over the last 30 years, the average age of farmers has steadily increased, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that half of all current farmers are likely to retire in the next decade, leaving a large gap for the next generation to fill.

Fortunately, a new wave of food pioneers, mostly from non-farming backgrounds, is turning to careers in agriculture. This career path comes with its fair share of hurdles. According to Lindsay Lusher Shute, executive director and co-founder of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), “Capital and land top most young farmers’ lists” as their biggest challenges. Here are 10 ways to help the next generation of farmers nourish future consumers:

1. Join a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) or shop at a local farmers market: These avenues are the most direct ways to support local farmers. A CSA is a program in which members purchase a share of vegetables from a local farmer in regular installments over the course of the season. In a neighborhood CSA, members take on administrative and management duties, allowing the farmer to focus on growing and delivering quality vegetables.

2. Donate: Consider donating to organizations whose mission is to look out for the interests of young farmers. Donations to the Rodale Institute funds research to support economically viable organic agriculture. Contributing to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service helps farmers implement sustainable practices which utilize innovations in science and technology. Or, support representatives from the NYFC who speak up for young farmers in local and national political arenas.

3. Be informed: Visit EatWild for information on how young farmers are more likely to implement grassfarming systems, and read about the other ways young farmers are using sustainable practices. The Greenhorns, a nonprofit, grassroots organization that connects and recruits new farmers through media, created a documentary film about the struggles of new farmers. Watch the film, or explore their events calendar and other media outlets, to find out more.

4. Tell policymakers: Let government officials know that young farmers are key to the future of agriculture by supporting policies that make farming a viable option for those just starting out. Join Food Tank in asking local officials to provide services and aid for new farmers by clicking here.

5. Volunteer: Volunteering time and skills can be invaluable. When community members offer their own skills, farmers can spend more time nurturing the land. Reach out to a local farmer’s market to inquire about opportunities. The Young Farmer Network recruits volunteers for varying aspects of the national program, from media and advertising to event planning.

6. Be hands-on: Visiting a working farm can be educational and fun. Use the LocalHarvest farm directory and take a family trip, or group of friends, to learn about the inner workings of a local farm. Knowledge and exposure to farm life will help invest future generations in local agriculture. For longterm farm work, including internships or apprenticeships, visit WWOOF or GoodFoodJobs.

7. Share with friends: Chef and author Bryant Terry encourages individuals to help by “making a delicious meal and sharing it with friends to illustrate how wonderful this food can be … then encouraging them to have a similar way of getting their own food.” Sharing sustainable practices and food experiences with others will motivate them to support young farmers.

8. Join a Co-op: Most co-ops strive to stock their shelves with locally grown food. Co-ops keep prices low by relying on the participation and management of its members, while still paying farmers fair prices. Search the directory to find a local co-op.

9. Find your favorite foods locally: Many farmers use LocalHarvest to reach out to a wider community. Check to see if your farm-fresh favorites are available nearby or online.

10. Spread the word: Social media is powerful. Telling others about a budding farm or agriculture event via social media can bring awareness and understanding of this issue to an even wider audience.




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