Thursday, August 29, 2013

Webb City Sentinel market column - 8-30-13

It’s been a funny year for produce. Of course, it seems like every year has been a bit odd for some time. Two years ago heat and drought caused major gaps in supply and then last year was even hotter and drier, which I didn’t think was even possible. We had virtually no tomatoes or sweet corn in August last year. This year, the challenge has been the opposite – a spring so wet the fields couldn’t be planted and then freezing temperatures in May set what had been planted back for weeks, or killed it. Heavy rains a few weeks ago caused tomatoes and melons to split in the fields. But of course summer rains are way better problems to have then drought. Already the top soil is dusty dry but at least the subsoil has been replenished. And it sure shows at the market. 

I was putting together a list of abundant produce at the market for tomorrow’s Market Lady, Theresa Dohm, so she could select a recipe. I came up with 20 different crops right off the top of my head and that didn’t include a lot of things just now coming in, like butternut squash, edible pod peas and broccoli. And I’d forgotten the okra (which I tend to do) until a friend sent a text inquiring about it. Yes, we have lots of okra. It just loves this hot weather. Seems like okra and peppers thrive in heat.

There is just a lot at the market right now and it looks really good. The supply of sweet corn has been erratic but we should have plenty today and hopefully tomorrow. Pate’s Orchard is bringing the one-ton truck today so we should have peaches for everyone.

Doesn’t that sound good – enough for everyone. That’s pretty much the theme of Cooking for a Cause tomorrow when it benefits the Ozark Area CROP Hunger Walk. Volunteers from Central United Methodist and Peace Lutheran churches are partnering to prepare and serve the breakfast and that, too, is a theme of CROP. Cooperation among many people of faith is one of my favorite things about the walk where you’ll find Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Catholics, United Methodists and Missionary Baptists, all walking together. It’s an interfaith walk and we’d love to extend it to all faiths in the community. We’re also young and old, kids in strollers, teenagers, all the way to octogenarians. Those who can’t walk sit in the shade and cheer the others on.

CROP does two things. It raises money to fight hunger and related problems and it educates people about hunger, its causes and solutions. One-quarter of the money raised stays right here, feeding our neighbors in need through Crosslines, the Salvation Army, Lafayette House and Childrens Haven. The rest goes around the world through Church World Service, caring for refugees, enabling long-term solutions in areas of chronic poverty, establishing clean waters sources and equipping the communities to maintain the sources.

The walk takes place on Sunday, September 29, at 2:30 and leaves from First Presbyterian in Joplin at 6th and Pearl. Want to join us?  Just catch me at the market and I’ll tell you more.

And CROP is not the only good cause at the market tomorrow. The Webb City Athletic Booster Club will be selling their new t-shirts, along with lots of other Cardinal clothing, stadium seats and blankets.  (That's some of the Webb City Band playing at the market last Saturday when the Band Boosters served breakfast.  They sounded great and made us all eager for cool fall Friday nights at the stadium.) 

The Joplin Business Women will have their Rada utensils for sale. They have expanded their selection four fold since last year. There are lots of different kinds of knives and other kitchen utensils that are very reasonably priced. They make excellent and useful gifts for folks that you’d like to give a little something to without breaking the bank. Stock up for Christmas.

A new band, On the Run, graces the market stage tomorrow. Something else new on Saturday:  cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls from the Butcher Block. We had three bakers submit samples for the Saturday opening, and they were all good, so that should tell you how good the Butcher Block’s are. Taking a phrase from our Athletic Boosters – they are outstanding!

Today The Loose Notes return to the market stage and Granny Shaffer’s at the Market serves homestyle chicken and noodles, chicken salad sandwiches and a fruit plate. University of Missouri Extension staff will demonstrate and give samples of Roasted Green Beans. Terrell Creek is back with their prizing winning goat cheese. We’re going to have lots of good things today, tomorrow, and, for that matter, next Tuesday. 

We start our last month of Tuesday markets next week. William Adkins performs and Granny Shaffer’s at the Market grills up hot dogs and hamburgers. They’ll also have their chicken salad sandwiches and fruit plates. We have just as many growers at the Tuesday market as at each of the weekend markets, but only about half the customers. It’s a great day to load up and there are only four Tuesday markets left this year!  See you at the market.