Although I initially had my reservations about the new location of the Napa Farmers Market, I have come to celebrate it as much, if not more, than just about everyone else. I love the abundance of parking, the proximity to Napa’s middle-class neighborhoods and the easy accessibility for farmers. But my greatest satisfaction is that we have more vendor stalls.
More stalls means more opportunity for the market to expand its offerings. We can recruit more niche farmers and vendors, incubate more new businesses and provide a platform for nonprofit organizations to garner more support and volunteers.
One thing that motivated me to get involved in the market was learning about the environmental impact of our food system. Did you know that ingredients for the average American meal travel about 1,500 miles from farm to plate? Think about the fossil-fuel consumption involved in getting off-season asparagus or tomatoes in January.
Studies show that lowering our meat consumption would dramatically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. But that isn’t a viable option for my family. I’m allergic to nuts, so I can’t simply replace one protein with another. My daughter would eat meat at every meal if she could.
Instead of foregoing meat, we limit it. When I learned about confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), I was appalled and vowed that I would only consume meat that was humanely raised. But just limiting our meat purchases to “quality” sources wasn’t enough for my comfort level. With experts raising alarms about melting polar ice caps, my family resolved to eat more local produce.
I would estimate that the ingredients in the average dinner at my house have traveled less than 100 miles. That’s a big step down from 1,500, and I feel good about the example it sets for my children. I hope they’ll continue the practice in their own homes when the time comes.
For those of you who would like to feel better about your food miles (or at least not jealous that your food traveled farther than you did last year), I have compiled a list of the farms at the Napa Farmers Market that come from less than 100 miles away:
— Big Ranch Farms: 3.4 miles
— Stone Tree Farms: 3.9 miles
— B & B Gardens: 4.9 miles
— Grant Farm: 6.5 miles
— Levine Family Farm: 11.2 miles
— The Patch: 14.1 miles
— Von Greiff Landscape & Farm: 15.7 miles
— Mossy Oak Farm: 16.6 miles
— Long Meadow Ranch: 18 miles
— Achadinha Cheese: 28.9 miles
— Pleasants Valley Honey: 32.4 miles
— Sonoma Mountain Beef: 33.1 miles
— Henry’s Bullfrog Bees & Pure Honey: 38.9 miles
— Bera Ranch: 39.4 miles
— Devoto Gardens: 40.8 miles
— Preston Point Lamb: 48 miles
— Arceo Ranch: 58.2 miles
— Gauchito Hill Farm: 61.4 miles
— Sun Tracker Farm: 71 miles
— Nature’s Candy Company: 97 miles
We have more vendors at the market, but from the above farms alone you’ll find greens of all kinds, summer squash, peaches, prunes, apples, lamb, beef, eggs, sprouts and microgreens, tomatoes, onions, beets, carrots, almonds, potatoes, celery, rhubarb, pears, peppers, lemons, melons, corn, kale, cauliflower, beans, culinary herbs, edible flowers, cheese and yogurt, honey, olive oil and vinegar.
So come shop at the market and enjoy food that comes from here. Your purchases support local growers and bring you food that’s riper, tastier and more nutritious than most grocery-store produce. You, too, can help combat global warming just by eating local ingredients. And what if you persuaded five friends to do the same? Our farmers will thank you, your children will thank you, and your grandchildren will thank you, too.
Coming up at the market: On Saturday, Aug. 27, at 11 a.m., Ryan Moore of Model Bakery will perform a bread-shaping demonstration. Learn what goes into making those perfectly shaped baguettes, batards and boules. Every first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m., enjoy a free half-hour market tour with a local chef. Sign up at the information booth.
Potato, Squash and Goat Cheese Gratin
2 medium yellow summer squash, about 1/2 pound
4 small to medium red potatoes, about 1 pound
3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus some for greasing the baking dish
4 ounces goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 1 Tbsp. thinly sliced basil or chopped thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish with olive oil.
Slice the squash and potatoes 1/8-inch thick or less. In a large bowl, toss with the 3 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Place one-third of the vegetables in the bottom of the dish. (You don’t need to layer them neatly.) Scatter clumps of goat cheese evenly over the vegetables, using half the cheese. Repeat with another one-third of the vegetables and the remaining goat cheese. Top with the last of the vegetables.
Pour the milk over the entire dish. Top with the Parmesan. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until the surface browns, about 15 minutes longer. Scatter the basil or thyme on top and serve.