“The land yields its harvest, God, our God, blesses us.” Psalm 67:6
I am a little obsessed with local farmers’ markets and farm stands. Actually, the truth is I am a lot obsessed! Whenever I research new areas to visit and the local farmers’ markets get any press, you can pretty much guarantee that I will stop by. There is something special about walking among the stands, looking at piles of rainbow Swiss chard and summer tomatoes, discovering a new local cheese artisan, or finding a food truck making donuts. The farmers are usually full of information and ideas on how to use their produce, and you feel good about supporting a local business.
Last year, I blogged in Strawberry Anniversary about how incredible freshly picked strawberries are compared to ones you find in the middle of winter at the grocery store. The color, texture, and taste do not even compare! The grocery store ones have been shipped in trucks from who knows where, often picked long before they were ready and have only the barest essence of real strawberries. The ones you find locally in season are exactly what God intended strawberries to taste like: a lush, sweet delight! But I find this contrast of flavors limited not only to strawberries, but to all foods in general.
Too often, I have prepared my menus based on what I felt like eating instead of what was currently in season. This approach ends up costing me a little more money and leaves with me meals that are less tasty. Additionally, I often use the same vegetables over and over again, unwilling to explore the wide variety that God has created.
After reading a few cookbooks and watching several food shows, I have decided to be a little more creative and adventurous with my produce. This summer and fall, I am choosing to embrace what is in season, purchasing most of these from local farmers, whenever possible. Sometimes, I go to a farmers’ market with no agenda in mind and buy what is available. I then go home, search through recipes, finding a simple but tasty way to prepare whatever I have purchased. This has led to a garlic scape pesto that I used on a grilled vegetable sandwich, and rainbow chard with northern beans. Not every recipe is a success, but it is challenging me to eat more veggies and fruit. I have also tried different fruits, including a bright, sunny yellow, plum that has a sweet-tart flavor, like a cherry.
I am nearing the finish line in my parenting journey. My daughter recently got engaged! Within a year, my daughter will be married and creating a home for herself and her husband. I know that when the day comes, I will have some tears as she moves out. But just like eating strawberries out of season, I do not want to focus on the past seasons of raising toddlers and children. Those were joyous seasons in my life I really enjoyed. This upcoming empty nest season is a time for me to explore new ministry opportunities, spend time investing in relationships, mentor younger women, and build upon my marriage. If I always look back on what was, I will miss what comes ahead!
I cannot wait till this Saturday’s visit at the farmers’ market. I have no idea what produce I might find, but I know it will be an adventure! Additionally, I am looking forward to my future and the plans God has for me.