COVID-19 has forced most of us to reprioritize many areas of our lives. Life as we knew it has dramatically shifted, and some of the new priorities have been thrusted upon us, such as how we deal with school closures or job losses, while others represent priorities that we have consciously made in light of new circumstances.
These include how we spend our free time, who we spend that time with, and perhaps decisions about our own health. We do have a choice when it comes to our health habits and especially what we choose to eat these days. But eating healthy can seem expensive and out of reach, especially if we are trying to deal with the loss of income or uncertainty about our future.
The current health pandemic has forced many of us to eat at home more often. Even in a household of three adults (one college-age student), it is amazing how much more the dishwater is being used.
It is an opportunity however to eat healthy whether that’s out of our own garden or by supplementing our supermarket purchases with fresh food from our local farmers market.
The challenge is how does one enter the farmers market and not either get discouraged by the perception of costs, or accidentally walk away spending twice as much as you wanted?
For us, like everything else in this pandemic it takes a bit of planning. Planning, of course, takes time, but then again, the pandemic has given us some time perhaps we did not have before.
I like to break down our Saturday morning trip to the market in thirds. We can usually walk out of the market with a healthy serving of items on $50 and that sustains us pretty well for the full week. This, of course, does not include the other items we would supplement at the store such as packaged goods, meats or regular dairy items. That said, most budgets can be divided into thirds.
The first third should focus on vegetables. We typically like to focus on some potatoes and any vegetable of season that can be sautéed or grilled. Now, that means summer squashes – some vendors even organize their veggies into small bags, which we can use for 2-3 servings. We tend to skip the tomatoes only because every neighbor seems to be growing them, but that said, a large heirloom from the market can cover a good three meals, salads or sandwiches.
The next third should be focused on fruits. This is a treat because of the beauty of seasonal fruit makes the months interesting and enjoyable. Go for the items that are plentiful and, therefore, on sale or discounted. Now, you can walk away with flavorful Freestone peaches, and there are a variety of apples right around the corner as well.
Finally, your last third won’t take you as far, but it is your reward for getting through these times. Use your last third to focus on something new that you have not tried before at the market. This is your opportunity to have a bit of luxury and taste during the pandemic and to keep things interesting on your table at home. Perhaps one week it is farm-fresh eggs, or a whole chicken, a piece of fresh fish, or even bacon. Once a month, this third could also be forfeited to support one of the many artisans that are at the market. These artisans play a key role in our local economy and it is a chance to support them during the pandemic when it is harder to make sales in more traditional venues.
The rule of thirds will make your market experience not only enjoyable, but a predominately healthy one without breaking the bank. Give it try and see if it works for your budget.
Garlic Parmesan Roasted Summer Squash
1 large zucchini
1 large yellow squash
6 Tablespoons garlic butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Slice zucchini and yellow squash into rounds, between ½ inch and 1 inch thick. Lay on a greased baking sheet in a single layer.
Brush melted garlic butter over each round. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remember you can add more after baking if needed.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over the top.
Bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until just tender.
Watch now: Protect yourself when shopping
Robert Jordan serves as Vice Chair of the Napa Farmers Market Board of Directors
Please donate now: The Napa Farmers Market needs your help in this challenging time. Our stall fees are down and expenses have climbed with the changes necessary to bring you a safe market every week. Our farmers rely on us—and on you—to stay in business. Please help us continue to provide this essential community service by making a tax-deductible donation now at www.napafarmersmarket.org/donate.
You can also donate to the Napa Farmers Market by making your Amazon purchases through Amazon Smile. When you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. Every item on Amazon is available on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com) at the same price. Designate the Downtown Napa Farmers Market Corporation as your charity of choice, and .5% of your purchase will be credited to the Napa Farmers Market.
Napa Farmers Market New Location: Until further notice, find the Napa Farmers Market at 1100 West St. (at Pearl Street) in downtown Napa, site of the former Cinedome Theater. Hours are Tuesdays and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for seniors only (65 and older); then 9 a.m. to noon. As a California Certified Farmer’s Market, the market is considered an essential food business and will remain open during the Napa County Shelter at Home 0rder. Check napafarmersmarket.org for updates.
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