Home >> The History of Our Food. Support the Local Farmers. See You at the Market.

Month: July 2017

The History of Our Food. Support the Local Farmers. See You at the Market.

Wildwood Farmers Market on Main
Saturday, July 29th
8:30am-12:30pm
16860 Main Street, Wildwood MO

 

Once farmer’s market season begins, my husband and I have to be very deliberate about taking some time off and getting away once in a while. We manage two farmers markets and have “regular” jobs as well. So practically speaking, each of us has had three jobs for the last several years. The first season that we took on two markets at once really took us by surprise and exhausted us on many levels. We took no time off from April through October. The following season, I set down and scheduled monthly fun, extended getaways or special weekend activities. We can’t “get away” until later Saturday afternoons, but we have managed to make it work for the last 5 years or so. This week was one of those extended, long weekend getaways. Much needed and really enjoyed.  A two hour drive to Springfield, Illinois to a friend’s house on Lake Springfield fit the ticket perfectly. The temperature there was much cooler, nice breezes, a very nice pool and a quiet neighborhood. Perfect.

One the way to Springfield and driving on Interstate 55 North, looking out the window at the endless, thousands of acres of corn fields, got me thinking. Of course! I started thinking about the history of the thousands of acres of corn (and soybeans) in Missouri and Illinois. When did this all this corn and soybean farming start? Who owned the land? What was all of this land like before agriculture? Was it sod and prairie? Was it forested? I thought about the vision of those huge fields of agriculture with that one, old, big tree in the middle of it. Or how the farm houses have trees and yards at the perimeters of these big fields. Maybe it was a mix of sod and forests? As we passed all of these fields of corn, I told my husband I was going to do some research and find out and I did.

I did a bit of research on the history of agriculture in Illinois, but quickly moved to the history of agriculture in Missouri and spent most of my time reading about this side of the river. To  be quite honest, the information I read is not what I expected, but it was quite interesting none the less. The first piece of ag history that I came across was that Admiral Perry introduced the first soybean seed to the United States after returning to a trip from Japan in 1854!!

As I suspected from my research over the last several years, the invention and growth of the railroad system throughout the U.S. had a significant impact on our food system and shipping of food across the country. With the innovation of refrigeration in the railroad cars, our food system was changed even more. The amount of railroad tracks that were laid, doubled in the 1870’s and 1880’s. In 1880 the first patent for a refrigerated railcar was granted.

As I read and researched about the unexpected long history of those thousands of acres of corn and soybeans, I became rather sad in some respects. In a very short period of time, just a few decades (1850’s-1875) there was a rapid growth in farms, acres farmed and prices for corn, soy and wheat as well as farm animals followed by a more drastic decline and loss.
At the beginning of the 1870’s there was less than 150,000 farms and 9.1 MILLION acres of farmland in production.  IN 1880, there were 215,000 farms and 16.7 MILLION acres of production. In 1870 Wayne County, Missouri had NO railroad connection and had 27,000 acres of farmland and produced 290,000 bushels of corn. After the railroad tracks were laid in the area, farmland production was up to 47,000 acres and 525,000 bushels.

And as quickly as the railroad brought prosperity, it brought quicker loss. With the railroad coming through, farmers were able to grow, produce and ship grains all over the country. Therefore, our State experienced the growth in the purchase and production of farmland. But soon thereafter with all of the growth, there quickly became more competition. In 1874 a bushel of corn was bringing $.67 and the very next year in 1875 it was down to $.24.  The same devastating price drop happened with farm animals (pork and beef).

Farmland had increased significantly and the decline of farm crop prices had decreased too rapidly. High interest loans and credit to farmers had become readily available during the brief time of growth and prosperity. Many family farms were lost and repossessed by the 1890’s. In the 1930’s there was a statewide drought and in 1936 there was a plague of grasshoppers that attacked and destroyed millions of acres of corn and other crops.

In 1945 Missouri had 240,000 farms and by 1997, there were 99,000 farms. The USDA now records 96,800 farms in Missouri with 28,500,000 acres in production.

One more interesting fact regarding the history of agriculture in our State is that of a man named Norman J Colman. He was a New Yorker with a law degree and a newspaper man that came to the St Louis area in the 1850’s. He became an alderman in St Louis’ 5th ward as a member of the Whig party. He started writing and publishing a paper called The Valley Farmer. As a result of the publication he became known in the farming circles. His path then became that of a career politician that he started in the Missouri House of Representatives. He became the 17th Lieutenant Governor in Missouri. And this is what may be one of the first steps of politics and agriculture in our State history and then on to a National level. This was really interesting to me.  Norman Colman served on the State Board of Agriculture from 1867-1903 (that’s a long time). He was a pioneer and encourager of Missouri farmers to adopt more scientific methods in their farming techniques. He wanted them to be more competitive in the national and international marketplace. He was a founding member of the College of Agriculture at the University of Missouri. In 1885, President Cleveland appointed him as the Commissioner of Agriculture.  Through legislation he was involved in, his lobbying efforts helped produce the Hatch Act. He also lobbies for a national department of agriculture. He was later appointed as the first United Stated Secretary of Agriculture in early 1889. He only held that office for a few weeks as it was never approved by the Senate. He later returned to St Louis and resumed work in the newspaper business.

After all of this studying and learning more about the history of “big ag” in our state I am once again happy that I am supporting the smaller, family farmer and the local, seasonal food “movement”. The plight of the family farmer really came to light as I read about the economic and rapid rise and fall of those that grow our food.  

I am thankful to know some great folks that grow some delicious, nutritious, beautiful food. And in addition, those that humanely raise and produce healthy and very tasty eggs and meat.

Once again, I urge you to visit and make the Wildwood Farmers Market your weekend stop for the most fresh, locally produced food in the area. This weekend you will find all of the season’s freshest produce, meats, eggs, honey, breads and baked goods, plants, herbs, cut flowers and more. This weekend we also have a variety of handmade and homemade craft and artisan items.

Enjoy unique melons and cantaloupe, some first of the season watermelon, LOTS of fresh picked sweet corn, peaches, blackberries, a huge variety of colors, shapes and flovors of tomatoes and peppers, green beans, eggplant, potatoes and a unique variety of squash. This is the HIGH SEASON for ALL, LOCAL summer produce.

Enjoy live music and visit the kid’s market Little Sprouts tent.

Vendors will include:
Stuckmeyer Plants and Produce
Cadet Creek
Homer’s Farm and Market
Brushy Creek
Condo’s Family
Stuart Farm
Farrar Out Farm
Three Girls and a Tractor
The Cerny Family
Red Hawk Orchard

Hidden Valley Honey Farm
Papillon Perennials
Rosey Acres
Milkweed for Monarchs
Patio Garden
Great Harvest Bread
El Chico Bakery
Cindy for the Birds
Lavish
Lavender Leaf
It’s a Winnerman Card
Stitches by Ann
Deb Sinn
Coasters N More
Gaelic Irish Art
The Earring Lady

Wildwood Green Arts
NO Rosy Buck and Flower Hill Farm- they had their baby!

See you at the market.
The Sackett’s

 

 

Summertime. Recipe Time. New Vendor Welcome.

Wildwood Farmers Market on Main
16860 Main Street, Wildwood MO
Saturday, July 22nd
***8:00am-11:30am***

***NOTE: Due to the extreme heat predictions, market hours have been modified this week

 

I am an omnivore. There was a time maybe 15 years ago more or less that I was a vegetarian (for a few years). I guess I could call myself a “flexitarian”. I heard this term recently and I thought it was appropriate and clever. I enjoy many cuisines, methods of food preparations and most dietary preferences. I prefer “real food”. And real food can be prepared and enjoyed in a multitude of ways. I don’t do it intentionally, but I do notice in the summer months I tend to be more vegetarian. As an omnivore, I don’t miss the meat as much and I tend to “fill up” and be really satisfied with all of the summer produce.

I have been enjoying more summer salads and sides. I have been cooking large quantities of some vegetables and then reheating them for a few meals during the week. The huge pot of fresh green beans, with onions and potatoes have been a hit. We add smoked and fresh hocks or bacon, bay leaves, salt and pepper. A few days ago I had a bowl of this dish for lunch.  Add a few slices of tomatoes, an ear of corn and a glass of iced tea. WOW! That’s a favorite summer supper for me.

Green beans with onions, artichoke hearts, an Italian dressing and fresh grated parmesan cheese baked in a casserole dish make a great side as well. Cold green bean salad (green and wax beans) in a vinaigrette have been a tried and true summer side for generations.

Cold Corn Salad has been a favorite for the last several summers. We get a lot of corn at the farmers markets that we manage. We freeze and pressure can as much as we can. We eat fresh corn on the cob several times a week. Don’t we all find ourselves invited out and need to take a dish to a few potlucks and parties during the summer months? I always look for a recipe that is going to be quick, easy as well as delicious and that uses fresh market ingredients. If the corn has been sitting around for a few days and is beginning to get a little starchy, making a corn salad or corn soup is the best way to use it up.

**Fresh Corn Salad**
(serves 6 as a side dish)
Cut kernels off of 5 or 6 ears of corn (about 4 cups)
Blanche the kernels in boiling water for a minute or two, rinse in cold water and drain.
In large bowl add- ½ large green pepper diced and about 1/3 cup diced yellow onion.
Stir in corn.
Add 1 tsp sea salt, fresh ground pepper
About ¼ to 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (to your taste preference)
The juice of 1 lime
A generous drizzle of good olive oil.
Stir all ingredients together, cover and chill. Before serving, taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
Just before serving add 1 diced, ripe avocado and stir gently.
Optional- add feta or cojita cheese before serving.
Keeps well in the fridge for a day or so.
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Another really easy, refreshing summer salad that I enjoy (with variations) is a cucumber, peach and/or melon salad. Tonight I used 1 large, ripe peach and ½ of a very small, ripe cantaloupe. The mélange was superb.

**Cucumber Peach (or melon) Salad**
(serves 4 as a side dish)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 large peaches, peeled and diced, about 1 ½ cups
(or cantaloupe or mix of both peach and melon)
¼ cup finely diced yellow onion
1 TBLS finely diced fresh basil
Dash of sea salt and grind of fresh pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Drizzle of good quality balsamic vinegar
Stir all ingredients together. It will create a thick, syrupy sauce)
Cover and chill.
Will keep for at least a day in the fridge.

As soon as we get watermelon at the market which could be anytime, I will share a favorite Watermelon Tomato Salad recipe.

 

MUSTARD
Meanwhile I also wanted to take the time to share the mustard formula that I have been using for the last several years. I have been enjoying the mustards that I made a month or two ago. Making mustard is not difficult. And one does not need a lot of special ingredients. Homemade mustard flavors and consistencies can be greatly varied. I am going to share my favorite formula. I use this as a base for different mustard “flavors”.

Ingredients Needed.
Mustard seeds (I use brown and yellow)
Ground Mustard Powder (I use McCormick or Coleman)
A liquid- I use beer
An acid- I use various vinegars
salt
Turmeric
sweetener ( I use honey) and or fruit
Chopped herbs are an option
I start a new recipe/formula with a small amount of ingredients that makes about ½ cup.

In a small glass bowl. (This makes about ½ cup)
*3 TBLS mustard seeds (Coarsely ground or crushed, I use a mortar and pestle. Breaking them releases the flavors.)
Mixed with
*¼ cup ground mustard powder
Add the liquid.
*¼ cup beer in my formula

(If the liquid is cold, your mustard will be sharper, hotter. If the liquid is room temp the mustard will be mellower. I prefer it mellow. I use room temp beer.
Let this mixture sit for at least 10 minutes (it’s chemistry). The longer you let it set, the less hot it will be.)

Add the acid.
*1 1/2 TBLS. (I use various flavored white wine type vinegars). You can add juice or another acid.

(As soon as you add the acid, the chemical reactions stops and you have set your mustard. You can stop here if you would like. It’s mustard.)

I add
*1 tsp salt, ½ tsp turmeric and 1 TBLS of sweetener (honey and or jam or fruit)

Stir and cover and let set. I like it to set for a few days. Taste and add chopped herbs if you’d like, or more sweetener. Or leave as is. Enjoy.
Mix and Match the mustard seeds, ground mustard, wild mustard, liquids, acids and sweeteners. Take notes. When you find a formula that you enjoy, double the recipe and make a full cup. Mustard keeps indefinitely.

 

KETCHUP
And now for homemade ketchup. This is not difficult either. But it does take a while to cook down and thicken. Ketchup spices can also be adjusted depending on the flavor profile that one enjoys most.

This formula makes just under a quart of ketchup. It keeps forever in the fridge. You can also hot water bath, can it in smaller pint or half pint jars.  I only make this once or twice a season and to make it worth my while I usually double the amount of tomatoes, onions, peppers , salt, vinegar, honey, but leave the spices the same. You can taste the mixture as it cooks and add another spice bag or take out the spices sooner. There are a lot of formulas for ketchup spices on the internet. We are used to very sweet commercial ketchup. Use this as a guideline and/or make a smaller batch first.
Homemade ketchup is definitely worth the effort.

Ingredients Needed
5 pounds of ripe tomatoes, chopped, no need to peel
2 cups each finely chopped onion and sweet pepper (red is preferred, but not necessary)
¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
4 large cloves finely chopped garlic
Put all of these ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer about 30 minutes. Ingredients should be soft.

Put all of these ingredients in a food mill fitted with the fine sieve. Then place back in pot.
Add ¼ cup honey (more if you desire sweeter)
Add 2 TBLS salt

Add the spice bag and let simmer for about an hour until the mixture is thick and reduced by half.
At this point, you can use a crockpot to finish the simmering and get to the final product. It does take longer.

Spice Bag- these can be varied quite a bit according to what one enjoys
In a large piece of cheesecloth put the following ingredients. Tie up and add to tomato mixture.
2 Bay Leaves
1 whole clove
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
couple of pieces of whole allspice
1 tsp of coriander seed
1 tsp black peppercorns
½ cinnamon stick

When mixture is thick remove spice bag
Add 2 TBLS Cider vinegar

Stir until desired thickness. It should make about 3-4 cups, depending on how thick you like it.

 

Market Report and Vendor List for July 22

I do have confirmation that we will have a nice variety of all the seasonal, fresh and local fruits and veggies that summer has to offer.

At the market this weekend there will be a variety of tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, cucumbers, onions, some beets, cantaloupe, blackberries, peaches, watermelon, eggplant, sweet corn, apples and MORE. Along with local, seasonal produce, we will have pastured meats and eggs, honey, plants and herbs, handmade soap, hand stitched and embroidered items and other handmade artisan wares.

We have a new produce vendor joining us this week. They are a local grower of apples and pears. Although they are not certified organic, they do use organic production methods and will bringing some summer apples to the market on Saturday. Please come and welcome Paul and Sara of Redhawk Acres to the market this weekend.

Among the vendors attending this week will be Cadet Creek, Brushy Creek, Stuart Farm, Winecreek Farm, Redhawk Farm, Alpacas of Troy, Farrar Out Farm, Stiches by Ann, The Earring Lady, Stella Grace, Papillon Perennials, Deb Sinn, Lavender Leaf, the Cerny Family, Adventures in Spice, Goose Creek Soap

Live Music by Michael and Jill Jonas.

See you at the market.
The Sackett’s
George and Rene’