The holidays are over. The Super Bowl is history. Winter is more than halfway gone. I love this time of year. I love the patter of life-giving rains alternating with gorgeous sunsets, the morning mists rising over the hills astride our beautiful valley, the chill in the morning giving way to a crisp, but sunny, afternoon.
It’s a quiet time and a time to appreciate how abundant nature is in this part of the world. Walking the aisles of the Napa Farmers Market on a winter Saturday, this abundance is on display in a way that is simply dazzling.
In the not too distant past, some formerly agricultural parts of the Bay Area traded their natural beauty and open space for development and industry. There are reasons that development happens, and I am certainly not trying to point fingers. However, it is a fact that through a combination of cultural pride, civic inspiration and the hard work of some forward-thinking grape growers, the Napa Valley has preserved its agricultural heritage while much of the surrounding Bay Area has morphed into something different.
It is easy to lose sight of the quiet beauty of a vineyard, an orchard, a farmer’s field. It’s easy to forget that agriculture is, in the end, worth more than all of the world’s iPhones and IPOs combined.
Economists discuss this phenomenon with an idea known as the Diamond-Water Paradox. This paradox attempts to answer the rather innocent question: Why is a diamond so much more valuable than a bottle of water when water is essential for life and a diamond is just for show?
The answer, of course, comes down to supply and demand. Diamonds are rare and, in our part of the world at least, water is not. But imagine a situation where there was only one gallon of water available for an entire city, with no relief in sight. Diamonds would suddenly become worthless, and that gallon of water would be priceless.
I realize that not everyone gets as big a kick out of classic economic theory as I do. However, if you think about how we value things, and if you are able to turn commercial values on their head and realize the inherent value of agriculture in your own backyard, then you will find yourself surrounded by more riches than you ever imagined.
Suddenly, a trip to the Napa Farmers Market is better than winning the lottery. The aisles of fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, meat and eggs, all freshly harvested or gathered and brought almost to your doorstep, will seem more astoundingly beautiful than all of the cellphones, Teslas and black Amex cards in the entire Bay Area.
This Saturday, Feb. 8, come out to see these riches on display and for sale at the Napa Farmers Market and help celebrate our new home at the Napa Valley Expo. The Napa Fairgrounds were established and set aside for the purpose of promoting agriculture in our region, and the Napa Farmers Market is proud to help achieve this mission.
This vegetable, available fresh at the Napa Farmers Market for much of the year, fuels passionate debate. There are plenty of haters, of course, and I was once one of them. Overcooked broccoli is one of the greatest of culinary sins. However, as a friend of mine once told me, “Broccoli is proof to dieters that God loves us.”
She was an ordained member of the clergy, so I guess she would know. I love this recipe as a simple, colorful complement to any roast meat — chicken, pork chop or hanger steak.
One head of fresh broccoli, cut into individual florets
1 teaspoon spicy mustard (not whole grain)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon wine vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli florets and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain in a sieve and immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When cold, drain again in a sieve.
In a bowl, whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, vinegar and oil. Add the broccoli and stir to coat.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and sauté just until the stems begin to soften and the tips begin to char slightly. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Serves 2 to 4
The Napa Farmers Market is moving! We open this Saturday, Feb. 8, in our new location at the Napa Valley Expo, on the corner of Third Street and the Silverado Trail.
Park in front of Zinfandel Hall. Hours remain 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. with all the same great vendors and activities.
Kids activities at the Napa Farmers Market
Bring your youngsters to the market Education Station on Saturdays for Story Time at 10:30 a.m. There might be coloring, matching games or other fun activities too.
On the KVYN Music Stage
On Saturday, Feb. 8, Stephanie Greivell will be performing.
Harvest of the Month
Through February, enjoy comparative tastings of beets at the market’s Education Station at 11 a.m.
Curtis Strohl is the general manager of B Cellars and on the board of directors of the Napa Farmers Market.
Beginning Feb. 8, The Napa Farmers Market takes place on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at the Napa Valley Expo, 606 Silverado Trail, Napa. Use the Silverado Trail RV Park entrance and park in front of Zinfandel Hall. The Tuesday market returns in April. Vendors offer local produce and flowers; fresh seafood and meat; ready-to-eat fare and other hand-crafted wares. Educational kids’ activities, chef demos and nonprofit organization booths add to the enriching, multicultural shopping experience. The market also participates in the Market Match program, doubling the value of CalFresh benefits purchasing power for all eligible food products. For more information or a schedule of upcoming events, visitwww.napafarmersmarket.org
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