Edge of the Lake Magazine June | July 2021

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Page 63



es, the heat and humidity have made their accosting return but summer days bring summer bounty. Here on the Northshore, indulging in the fruits of the season has never been easier. In researching this idea of seasonal eating on the Northshore, I sat down with the organizers and vendors of the multiple farmers’ markets in the area. An almost unanimous story was told. Once the markets reopened following a prolonged closure last spring, the markets saw an increase in both vendors and customers. I was given a variety of hypotheses explaining the uptick - from folks preferring the lower risk of shopping at an open-air market, community members wanting to invest locally during a time of collective hardship, and people simply just had more time on their hands. Whatever the reason, our markets are bustling and transitioning into the summer harvest. St. Tammany Parish is home to multiple farmers’ markets. Chefs and home cooks alike flock to these markets to buy the season’s freshest produce and ingredients. Danny Blackburn, market director of the Camellia City Market in Slidell, noted that they limit vendors to about a forty-mile radius. Nothing is grown or produced too far away from home. I sat down with Mr. Danny back in April to discuss the importance of farm-to-table eating. “Produce found in your average grocery store is grown to be picked, not eaten. Everything you see here at the market is grown or produced within about a forty-mile radius. These vegetables on the stand were most likely picked Wednesday to be sold here on Saturday. Meat from our vendors Black Creek Farm and Honestly Beef is freshly packaged and has only been frozen once.” There is a benefit to knowing where your food comes from. Investing in our local farmers and growers is not only advantageous for our local economy, but it is in fact an “investment.” The return being a fresher, better tasting, responsibly grown product. These are some of the reasons why so many families and restaurants like Oxlot 9 in Covington and Restaurant Cote in Slidell are committing to farm-to-table practices. My own family has been actively committing to shopping and eating as locally as possible this past year. A few observations: Since our local growers pick at the peak of freshness, everything tastes so good on its own. We are spending less money on “filler” ingredients to complete our meal. I am also spending less time over the stove. Mr. Ernie’s tomatoes from Homegrown Produce are so good that they don’t need much “agitation.” A little salt and pepper, and you have a James Beard-worthy dish.

EDGE June | July 2021