With my shopping list in hand, I recently visited the Sandy Springs Farmers Market to peruse ingredients for a cooking class I was teaching at Piedmont Cancer Wellness Center.
Since the class topic was “Going Green” and encouraging a more veggie-based diet and eco-friendly lifestyle, a morning visit to our Saturday farmers market was the ideal place to shop.
Patrons have an opportunity to meet the 50 plus farmers and vendors listed on the Market’s website. There was an assortment of handmade sausages, artisan cheese, olives, breads, cookies and crepes, seasonal produce, and aromatherapy candles all on display. It was like having the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker together at your disposal.
There were vendors selling pasta and sauces. Others offered fruit, herbs, handmade pottery, "grass-fed” jewelry, and even treats for our four-legged pets.
Many vendors adhere to organic or environmentally conscious production methods and are eager to share how their products were grown or made.
Slow and social is the best way to take full advantage of the Farmers Market. Leave the "run and git’er done' shopping behind you. But bring plenty of cash or checks since not all vendors accept credit cards.
During my visit, the local color, sights, and sounds included kids in soccer gear trailing their moms, a few young hipsters rocking-out to the bluesy tunes of a performing guitarist, and chatty neighbors leisurely strolling with their dogs on leash. Enticing aromas ran through the open-air market.
The vendors invite you to smell, touch and taste before you buy. I nibbled on a farmer’s crunchy sugar snap peas while marveling at his enormous Chinese cabbage, which was the size of a Butterball turkey.
Chef Allen Wu, from on Sandy Springs Circle, offered tastings of lightly tempura battered sliced sweet potatoes, zucchini and other assorted vegetables.
I also took a wary bite into a fresh peach from an orchard’s fruit stand. It was surprisingly sweet and juicy for so early in the season.
After circling the Market, I made my purchases for the cooking class: Handmade feta cheese from in Sandy Spring; sugar snap peas, long tubular red Chinese radishes, and an armload of whole fennel from TaylOrganics in Ellenwood; also dinosaur kale from Dahlonega Golden Harvest farm.
It felt good supporting dedicated small business owners and knowing these ingredients were fresh from the field or locally made.
Before I left, I bought two all natural fruit popsicles from The Pop Shop cart vendor. One had a refreshing grapefruit rosemary flavor and the other - carrot cake spice. Yum! Don’t you just love sweet endings?
If You Go
The Sandy Springs Farmers Market is located at 235 Sandy Springs Circle. It's open Saturdays through December from 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., rain or shine.
While You're There
Pick-up a bunch of fresh kale to try my sweet and savory kale slaw recipe. It’s perfect for potluck and a snap to make. The recipe contains no mayonnaise and is healthy to boot!
6 T. white balsamic vinegar
3 T. unseasoned rice vinegar
3 T. honey
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp. sea salt
2 bunches of kale (about 1 lb.), center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
¼ c. of toasted sunflower seeds
¼ c. cranberries or pomegranate craisins, more if not using fresh pomegranate seeds
¼ c. fresh pomegranate seeds, optional
Parmesan cheese shavings
Whisk vinegars, honey, olive oil, and salt in large bowl. Add kale, raisins/pomegranate seeds and sunflower seeds; toss to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally. Before serving, season to taste with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with cheese.