Choose Local, Eat Clean

Buying local is important to me for several reasons. I love supporting small businesses: both of my parents are small business owners and I understand how important it is for the local economy. I like knowing that my food was grown organically, and I like knowing where my food comes from. If you ask the vendors at the farmers market, they’ll tell you everything about how their produce is grown or how their cows are raised. The vendors at the Natick Farmers Market come from all over New England, and I consider them all local. My definition of local is regional, and that includes all of New England from Connecticut to Maine.

“Local” means different things to different people, and your definition of local might be different from mine. I think that the important thing is to understand where your food comes from and be satisfied knowing that you are serving the best food to your family that you can. I am doing my best to work through ingredients that I already own while transitioning to all locally sourced ingredient. I didn’t have an empty fridge when I started shopping at the farmers market, and I don’t want to waste anything just because I’m buying differently now.

For the next two weeks, the Natick Farmers Market is still in winter-mode. The market is set up inside a church on the corner of the Natick Commons, across from the square where the summer market will be held. The vendors at the market sell meats, breads, cheeses, spices, popcorn and honey. There are three produce vendors, and I deliberate over each vegetable.

Last week I found freshly picked asparagus, which is one of the first vegetables to grow in the spring. This week I was delighted to find plump zucchini. As I reach to grab the only one left in the basket, Bianca at the Freitas Farms’ booth tells me it had just been picked that morning. I beamed and felt closer to the farm already, knowing that it had been in the ground just that morning.

I had hoped to pick up some garlic but there were no bulbs at any of the tables. Bianca says that garlic won’t even start growing for a few more weeks, so none of the vendors have any. I ask for garlic at the other tables anyway, holding out hope that someone will have a bulb or two. The woman at the Oakdale Farms table says that she used to bring garlic every week but no one ever bought it, and so she stopped. Would it be possible to special request some? Maybe just one bulb? Sure enough, it is possible. I am elated.

This week I found a source for local garlic. Next week, I’ll talk to the specialty salt vendor and get the scoop on their seasonings as I continue to restock my pantry.

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Sweet Potato, Onion, Carrot, Kale and Turkey Sausage Hash with an Egg on Top and Olive Rosemary Bread on the side

Makes five servings

Total time: 60-75 minutes

In my basket

1 lb. Garlic Turkey Sausage (from Chestnut Farms, Hardwick MA)

Dozen Eggs (from Chestnut Farms, Hardwick MA)

5 Carrots (from Oakdale Farms, Rehoboth MA)

2 large Sweet Potatoes (from Oakdale Farms, Rehoboth MA)

1 Yellow Onion (from Oakdale Farms, Rehoboth MA)

3 cups leftover Kale (from Oakdale Farms, Rehoboth MA)

Leftover slices of Olive Rosemary bread (from Birchtree Bread Co, Worcester MA)

From the pantry

4 tablespoons Olive oil

1 clove Garlic

Salt and pepper

  1. Slice the carrots into rounds. Large dice the sweet potatoes. Medium dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Chop the turkey sausage into bite size pieces.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes, onions and carrots. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Transfer to a large serving dish when done.
  3. While the sweet potatoes cook, heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high. Set out one egg for each person. Once boiling, add the eggs and cook for exactly six minutes. Drain and rinse eggs under cold water to stop the cooking process for 30 seconds to a minute. When cool enough to handle, peel the cooked eggs and set aside.
  4. In the pan used to cook the sweet potatoes, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until internal temperature has heated to vendor’s instructions (use a meat thermometer to measure temperature). Add to the large serving dish with the sweet potatoes when done. (The turkey sausage that I bought was already seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper, but if yours isn’t pre-seasoned, add a clove of minced garlic to pan and season with salt and pepper to taste).
  5. In the pan used to cook the sausage, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic when hot, cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add kale, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until kale is bright green. Transfer to the large serving dish when done.
  6. Serve a helping of hash with a soft-boiled egg on top and bread on the side. Enjoy!

Leftovers? Despite using several cups of kale last week in the sandwiches and several cups of kale this week in the hash, I have about 2 cups of kale left over. Last week I bought the biggest bunch of kale I’ve ever seen and I’ve gotten three meals out of it. I’m tired of cooking with kale, so I’m going to throw the rest of it into a food processor with garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, lemon and walnuts to make a fresh pesto.


Creator Alice Kathryn RichardsonAlice Kathryn Richardson is a new media photojournalist and creator of The Clean Food Club. She previously spent two years working on Deserts in the District, a series of short-form documentaries exploring food access and hunger in Washington, DC. She is committed to supporting local and sustainable food businesses by telling their stories with photo and video. Follow her on Twitter @AKR_Pictures.

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