One of the great pleasures of living where I do is my proximity to local farm markets. At this time of year, they are overflowing with the produce of early summer: lettuce and squash and baby beets; fragrant basil; and sweet, ripe strawberries and raspberries. I stopped a few days ago at my favourite farm market and picked up the produce in the photograph. It was so fresh and vivid, that I was inspired first to photograph it, and then prepare a simple, fresh meal: baby beets, roasted on the barbeque, grilled squash, and lightly sauteed beet greens. I sprinkled some of David Wood’s divine peppered chevre over the vegetables and sat down to savour it. The beauty of a meal like this is that it feels at once wholesome and virtuous, and at the same time completely indulgent.
As simple pleasures go, the farm market is near the top of my list. The offerings are ever-changing. Today there might be New Zealand spinach and rainbow chard; two weeks from now they might have the first of the scarlet runner beans or the long French green beans that I could eat every day; and in late summer, the heirloom tomatoes and fresh corn begin to appear, along with my favourite thing in the whole world: fresh figs.
I am a big fan of Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon’s The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating and am fortunate that my 100 miles overlaps theirs. If I were truly virtuous, I could source local fruits and vegetables year-round, access fresh seafood and locally raised poultry and meats, and I could even buy bread made with locally grown wheat. I would have to do without tea and coffee and chocolate, and I have enormous respect for the 100 Mile authors that they did so.
I’m not that virtuous. But during farm season, I take every opportunity that I can to enjoy the bounty that this little corner of the world produces.