Posts Tagged ‘white house farmers market’

Opening Weekend at DC/VA/MD Farmers Markets

Friday, April 29th, 2011

I’ve been spoiled to live by year-round markets, but my heart still skips a beat at the first spotting of bright green stalks of asparagus after a long, cold winter. This past weekend I lucked out and found the season’s first Northern Neck strawberries, too — much to the Foodie Tot’s joy. (Yes, he did a dance after peering into my market bag.)

black rock orchard asparagus

But May brings the opening of many of the area’s seasonal markets — including Fairfax County markets, the Alexandria West End market (Sundays, 9am-1pm — **note, opening has been delayed until next Sunday, May 8), the FreshFarm Crystal City market (Tuesdays, 3-7m), and others. happy strawberry danceThe FreshFarm Market by the White House opens next Thursday (3-7pm), and one of my favorites, West Virginia’s Bigg Riggs Farm, is joining the market this year. (You can also find them at Crystal City and Alexandria’s Old Town and Upper King Street Markets — and they’ve had ramps the past couple weeks.)

If you’re headed out in search of asparagus this weekend, Northern Virginia magazine offers some pointers on how to choose and prepare them. Me, I roast them in olive oil and sea salt for about 8-10 minutes (400 degrees), until just tender enough for the baby to gnaw on.

That’s right, the Foodie Bebe has already savored her first asparagus. The boy’s fancy for it comes and goes. (Though I did discover he likes it better if I pan roast it in the cast iron skillet with butter instead of olive oil, and a little parmesan cheese never hurts.) Do your kids like it?

Win for Healthy Schools in DC (and 5 links for Friday)

Friday, May 7th, 2010

jamie oliver food revolutionFirst, some good news: Earlier this week, the DC City Council unanimously approved the “Healthy Schools Act.” The measure creates strong nutrition and exercise standards in a city with one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the country. Among the highlights, the new legislation will:

  • Mandate lower-calorie, lower-fat nutrition guidelines be met;
  • Triple the amount of exercise school children get in physical ed;
  • Provide free breakfast in the classroom for high-poverty schools;
  • Establish a farm-to-school program and provide extra funds to encourage schools to source local and organic produce;
  • Establish a school garden program.

This is clearly a huge win for all involved (kudos to  Councilmember Mary Cheh, the sponsor, the DC Farm to School Network, and others!) and a good example for other school districts around the country. The only downside is that the legislation did not include an effort to curb sugar. Read more about the sugar-laden DC school meals at the Better DC School Food blog (caution: you may get sugar shock simply from viewing the breakfast pictures), and read Marion Nestle’s take on the issue here.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to sign Jamie Oliver’s petition supporting better school food for kids.

And now, some more links for your weekend reading:

  1. On the subject of Jamie Oliver, are you all following 30 Days to a Food Revolution over at the W.H.O.L.E. Gang? Lots of helpful information and tips for anyone looking to clean up their diets.
  2. It’s rhubarb season at the farmers market! Check out the drool-worthy assortment of recipes over at food52 for inspiration. On my list: Rhubarb Curd Bars, one of the finalists by local foodie Rivka of Not Derby Pie.
  3. Speaking of local foodies, check out the pictures from opening day at the Farmers Market by the White House by Adventures in Shaw. (And no, I didn’t make it over for some of Chef Jose Andres’ legendary giant paella — bummer!)
  4. If you needed more enticement to head out to the farmers market for fresh strawberries (here in DC anyway, apologies to those further north!), La Vida Locavore reports that California has given preliminary approval to a pesticide (methyl iodide) that is used to induce cancer in labs, and causes miscarriages. Please, please, buy organic strawberries!
  5. On a lighter note, if you’re making strawberry shortcake for a mother in your life this weekend, check out Rick Bayless’ Strawberry Tres Leches Shortcake for a new spin. Yum!

A Market by the White House (and a wish for more to come)

Friday, September 11th, 2009

penn quarter farmers market dcAll politics is local, they say, and nothing is more political these days than local food. FreshFarm Markets announced last night that they are, in fact, opening their ninth market on Vermont Ave. in DC, just steps away from the White House. The vendors, as identified by Capital Spice, are familiar to anyone who shops DC’s existing markets, ranging from organic and quasi-organic produce to bakeries, dairy and meat producers. The White House involvement was downplayed in the news release, and reportedly seems to be limited to a “hope” that assistant chef and food initiative coordinator Sam Kass will appear for cooking demonstrations. The press release, did, however, invoke the symbolism of the new market’s location saying, “This is the culmination of a long journey for FRESHFARM Markets, which has brought farmers into the center of Washington, DC, where policy is made.” Intrigued by the suggestion that perhaps FreshFarm was opening this market as a volley into political advocacy in support of increasing access to fresh foods*, I obtained this follow-up explanation from founder and co-director Ann Yonkers:

“We think the farmers presence in the center of Washington, DC, is the best answer to many policy questions about how we should eat.  There’s no need to talk, one bite of the delicious local food and the argument for fresh and local is made.”

No need to talk? Maybe members of Congress won’t shuttle across town, bite into an apple from Spring Valley Farm & Orchard, and suddenly be inspired to rush back to the drawing board to come with an extra billion dollars to double the funding for school lunches. But perhaps tourists who drop by the new market will be inspired to go home and write their legislators to urge their support for farm-to-school and healthy lunch programs. If so, then the market will achieve more than just symbolic change. We do need to talk, and loudly, to change our food policy for the better.

I love farmers markets, and I agree they are powerful for creating sustainable local communities. I commend FreshFarm Markets for the work they’ve done to grow the local foods movement in DC. I just continue to hope that the White House will work to extend their reach into the communities in Washington who still don’t have access to fresh produce. Let’s make the White House farmers market more than just a symbol.

*Note: As with several of their existing markets, FreshFarm Markets will double the value of Food Stamps, WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Coupons at the new market and offer a gleaning program to benefit Miriam’s Kitchen.

P.S. Don’t forget it’s Fight Back Friday over at the Food Renegade – go check it out!

An Open Letter to Michelle Obama

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Dear First Lady Obama:

michelle obama white house gardenI have been truly, deeply inspired by your commitment to bringing fresh, healthy foods to the nation’s children and your clear understanding that true health care reform begins with access to healthy foods. I cheered when you broke ground on the White House kitchen garden, applauded your decision to follow organic methods, and saluted your reaching out to the District’s school children to use the garden as a powerful hands-on teaching tool.

I too am a staunch advocate for farmers markets and local family farms, and a supporter of local child-hunger organizations and the new grassroots effort to bring the Farm-to-School movement to DC. I was intrigued when I heard the President suggest that the White House was interested in hosting a farmers market, but now that the plans are beginning to take shape I am sorry to say I am disappointed.

I’m sure you’ve been fully briefed on the important role FreshFarm Markets have played in bringing locally-grown produce to the Washington community. I am pleased that your office is reportedly working with this experienced organization. But I am disheartened to hear that the prospective new market will be held downtown, in a predominantly office building setting where the majority of customers will be suburban-dwelling commuters, and mere blocks from two existing weekday markets at Foggy Bottom and Penn Quarter. I realize that many support the idea of a White House Farmers Market as sending a powerful symbol about your and the President’s commitment to healthy, local foods. But I fear the wrong message will be sent by supporting yet another market that primarily serves affluent people in one of the city’s most affluent wards. Symbolism is not going to solve our nation’s food crisis. It is time for leadership.

And so I am writing today to urge you to reconsider the location and purpose of a potential White House farmers market. I would be elated to see the White House supporting a market in one of the Districts many under-served neighborhoods, such as Ward 8 which currently has just one fledgling market and few other sources of fresh fruits and vegetables.  By working with an existing market, less effort will be required to start up the project thus speeding up the delivery of farm-fresh produce to the hands of those who most need it. I am sure many of us in the District’s robust local foods movement would be willing to volunteer to help out such a worthwhile endeavor. I’ll be the first to sign up.


C. Levine & the FoodieTots family

Photo (c) Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton