Tips and Recipes for Buying and Using Local Produce

Posted on October 17, 2012 by


Tips for the Market

  • If you are looking strictly for local produce, make sure to ask the stand owner. Some stands sell produce that was shipped in from elsewhere. Sometimes it is obvious to tell with items such as bananas and avocados, but others, like broccoli and strawberries, are not.
  • Do not forget to bargain shop! During the season, many stand owners grow the same produce, and deals are plentiful.
  • Check all produce before buying because some may be spoiled or too ripe for use.
  • Get to the market early! Once a stand runs out of a certain product, they do not have any more.
  • Look around for other food items. For example, some stands also sell jams, relishes, and baked goods.
  • Some of the larger markets are open year round. Inquire what months your local market is open.
  • Keep in mind everything grows at a different time, so the desired produce may not be available.
  • Organic means that vegetables and livestock are produced using natural sources of compost and manure. Also, natural methods of crop and weed control are used instead of using synthetic or inorganic agrichemicals.
  • Food Footprint–fruits and veggies at the grocery store travel a long way, using a lot of gas. By buying closer to home, the price goes down because less gas is used.
  • Whole foods–foods that have a distinctive source, (ex. Apples come from apple trees).
  • Monoculture is the process of growing one crop in large quantities.
  • Stickers on fruit–four numbers means the product was grown with pesticides, five numbers with 8 in front means the product was genetically modified, and five numbers with nine in front means the product was organically grown.


Here are a few recipes for you to try!

Beef, Potato, and Red Onion Kebabs
Serves 4


  • 8 small new potatoes, cooked, cooled, and halved
  • 1 ½ lbs. steak, cubed in 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 medium red onion cut into 8 wedges, each halved crosswise

Heat grill to medium-high. In a large bowl, toss ingredients with 2 tbsp. olive oil and ½ tsp. each salt and pepper. Thread onto skewers and grill 8-10 minutes for medium-rare.


Spring Beef and Vegetable Stew
Serves 4


  • 16 oz. sweet onion, diced
  • 14.5 oz. tomatoes, diced and drained
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 3 inch sticks
  • ¾ cup nonalcoholic dry white wine
  • 1 ½ lbs. lean beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 8 oz. egg noodles
  • 1 cup sugar peas, cooked and cooled
  • 1 tbsp. fresh tarragon, roughly chopped

In a five or six qt. slow cooker, combine onions, tomatoes, carrots, and nonalcoholic wine. Season beef with ½ tsp each salt and pepper; then sprinkle with flour; toss to coat. Add to the slow cooker and cook, covered, until the beef is tender and easily pulls apart, six to eight hours on low or four to five hours on high. Twenty-five minutes before serving, cook noodles according to package directions. Three minutes before serving, sprinkle peas over the beef mixture and cook, covered, until heated through. Fold in the tarragon and serve over noodles.


Creamy Corn and Zucchini


  • 4 tbsp. Zesty Italian Dressing
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 cup Mexican shredded four cheese mix
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 3 slices cooking bacon, crumbled

Heat dressing in large skillet on medium high heat. Add corn, zucchini, onion, garlic and cook. Stir eight to ten minutes or until crisp-tender vegetables. Stir in cheese and sour cream, cook on medium heat three to five minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is heated through.  Stir frequently. Top with bacon.

By Gwen Harter

Posted in: Freelance