True to form I spent the morning dawdling and enjoying my coffee, missing the market entirely, and finally arrived on the East side at 10:45 AM – a full half hour after the fair started and 15-minutes late for the Burp! led workshop “How to Use and Preserve Herbs.”
I did, however, learn how to freeze tablespoons of fresh herbs in little ice cubes of homemade flavor, later to be added to soups, stews, and other wonderful Cream City Cuisine recipes. Look for a post on this in the future.
The fair was also a great opportunity to find out more of what our area has to offer by way of locally-grown ingredients and locally-produced foodstuffs. I came away much informed and armed with a plethora of information and a few goodies. As a current low-carb eater, I was especially interested in learning more about where I can get beef, chicken, fish, and pork from local farmers. The 5 best takeaways I received, in no particular order:
1. Farm Fresh Atlas of Wisconsin – By far the most helpful resource I received at the fair (even comes in handy dandy website form). This oracle lists all of the WI farms that sell direct to consumers, what they sell (produce, meats, etc), and where they sell (markets, CSAs, etc).
2. Outpost Natural Foods – I’m always tempted to refer to “Outpost Natural Foods” as “Outpost Natty Foods,” as a sort of throwback to my college days (bonus points if you get the reference). I think I will do so here as it’s always nice to know one can amuse oneself.
The one thing I’ve always known about OP Natty is that it is home to your favorite organic fare. That, and you should always bring your own bags.
What I didn’t know, however, is that the OP Natty also provides a fine stock of local products including meats, produce, dairy, beverages, and snacks.
Staring down the barrel of this Eat Local Challenge and faced with the idea of driving miles out of the city to pick up half a cow at the nearest farm, I’m suddenly comforted to know I can just head to the meat counter instead.
3. Goody Bag – Outpost Natural Foods is the sponsor of this Eat Local Challenge, and they lovingly provided all of us bloggers with a goodie bag for our troubles. The bag itself is a beautiful cloth bag sewn by a lady in South Milwaukee, and it was filled with delicious, local foodstuffs…I can only assume. I must wait to try the hot chocolate and shortbread cookies for a few weeks yet, but rest assured I will put that coffee to work, and it will work until its fingers bleed.
4. Winter Farmer’s Market – Turns out that the dead of winter in Wisconsin can still boast some local farmers’ market fare. The Milwaukee County Winter Farmers’ Market begins in early November, runs through mid-April, and, I assume, sells local harvest foodstuffs but I can’t imagine what those could be. Scavenged berries and dried venison? Canned goods? For some reason, I have that scene from Bambi in my head where the deer are eating the bark off of the trees because the frigid winter weather is just too bleak. I hope there’s more than bark. I kid. Sort of. If you’re as curious as I am, then I guess we’re making a date for November 5th, the first market of the season.
5. Low-Carb Challenge – The only bummer of the day was the numerous food samples at the fair that I could not enjoy. Vegan cupcakes, ice cream, and baked goods were no-no’s, yet I was able to enjoy a small bright spot in the delicious hard cheeses. Trust Wisconsin to provide me with a little bit of joy.