Zero Waste Tip: Stock up at the Farmers' Market
October is the last month for most of Chicago's outdoor farmers' markets. Though many of the markets will move indoors for the winter, the selection of local foods that they have to offer will decrease over time as farmers sell out of their stock of garlic, potatoes, and more. So, this month, we recommend trying to buy a few extra pieces of long-lasting produce if you visit a farmers' market!
Fellow Chicagoan and seasonal cooking expert Amanda McLemore offers some tips about what will store well: "I am stocking up on storage foods such as potatoes, squash, onions, apples, etc. Each variety of produce enjoys different conditions." She recommends this article from Rodale's Organic Life as a good place to start when exploring how to store each food.
For beginners to fall and winter storage - or simply those pressed for time - she recommends starting with squash or potatoes, noting "I sift through mine every so often and if I find any that are becoming soft I use them up that week." Air drying herbs is another simple project she recommends; this can help save you from buying plastic clamshell packages of herbs at the grocery store in winter months.
Buying a little bit of food to store and use later in the season is a good way to keep more of your food dollars in the community and to support small-scale agriculture. Plus, you can find interesting varieties of foods at the farmers' market that you'd never find at a regular grocery store; this past weekend at the market we spotted potato squashes, cranberry beans, and the cult favorite Rocambole variety of garlic.
To find the Chicago area farmers' market nearest to you, you can visit our website here. And, we're excited to share more about Amanda's local and seasonal approach to food and cooking in our Community Member Spotlight this month.