Savoring the Seasons: Use ’em while they’re fresh

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For The Recorder
Published: 4/26/2016 5:05:42 PM

I am so excited that this Saturday is the opening of the Greenfield Farmers Market! I look forward to roaming around the market, visiting farmer friends I haven’t seen since last fall, and shopping for tasty food. I’ll chat with folks I know, including regular guests at the meals run by the  Franklin County Community Meals Program and others who use SNAP benefits to make ends meet. They’ll be able to double up to $10 of their SNAP benefits to buy nutritious food thanks to CISA’s Snap & Save program (www.buylocalfood.org/buy-local/snapandsave/).

In my excitement, I’ll also try to avoid the “my eyes are bigger than my stomach” problem I sometimes have at farmers markets. I live alone and mostly just cook for myself. It’s easy to buy too much of some particularly lovely vegetables or fruit. Then, it can be a challenge to use it all before it rots. Sometimes, some of that lovely produce ends up in the compost pile. This year, my goal is to try hard to avoid that.

I thought about that issue when I met Mary Bell from Bernardston at the Food For Good conference at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (http://www.communityaction.us/food-for-good-conference.html). Mary is passionate about reducing food waste and especially about a federal law I’d never heard of, the Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act enacted in 1996. The Act encourages the donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations for distribution to individuals in need by protecting individuals and companies from liability.

www.feedingamerica.org/ways-to-give/give-food/become-a-product-partner/protecting-our-food-partners.html

Mary started a Bill Emerson Act Awareness Campaign to encourage people to donate food to food pantries or free meal sites. She and Emily Scagel from Greenfield created great informational posters about the Act and about the EPA’s “Food Recovery Hierarchy.” The EPA suggests source reduction, feeding hungry people, feeding animals, fuel conversion or composting before sending food to the landfill. Contact Mary at BEAAwarenessCampaign@gmail.com to get posters and find out more.

Another way to learn more is to see “Just Eat It” at Amherst Cinema on May 3.

I know the power of food donated by generous people and businesses in our community. Food donated to community meals and distributed through food pantries in Franklin County feeds our hungry neighbors every day.

This week we’re eating …Food We Might Have Thrown Out

From: strongertogether.coop/food-lifestyle/cooking/earth-day-starts-at-home/#sthash.zBzZCjbm.dpuf

Buying radishes or carrots by the bunch? Use the leaves to make pesto, salads, and toss in soup. Think of them as peppery parsley.

Do you discard kale and other greens’ stems? When cooking with kale, simply separate the leaves from the stems, chop the stems, and cook the stems first; they will cook a bit like celery. If you juice, save all your greens stems from meals you prepare, including parsley, and add to your juice for a chlorophyll boost.

Do you peel potatoes? The peels make a flavorful addition to stock, and even thicken it a bit. Consider whether you even need to peel; many soups, potato salads and even mashed potatoes are more nutritious and filling with the skins left on.

Baking or cooking with apples? Leave the skins on and you will reap the nutrients and fiber they contain, and save time. If you do peel, add them to soup stock, for a subtle sweetness.

Do you have veggies going soft in the crisper? Cook and puree carrots, sweet potatoes, greens, cauliflower, and other veggies, then freeze. Stir purees into pasta sauce, macaroni and cheese, soups, casseroles and meatloaf for an added veggie boost.

Cutting up vegetables for a dish? Save and freeze skins and trimmings from onions, carrots, celery, sweet potato, potato, parsley, spinach, and other mild veggies (peppers, cabbage and broccoli can be too strong) until you have a good amount to make vegetable stock.

Organize your refrigerator and pantry, and put foods that should be consumed sooner right in front. Switch your storage containers from opaque to clear glass, so you will see that tasty lasagna from last night, because out of sight is out of mind.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer for Greenfield Community College, brand promoter for Goshen-based local food company Appalachian Naturals, and writer/editor for More Than Sound. Send column suggestions and recipes to: mmcclinto@yahoo.com


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