Good news: In D.C., the phrase “yes we can” now applies to local foods! You CAN get pesticide-free produce year-round, even in the winter, and you CAN get it from the very farmers who grew it. Just ask the bundles of wool scarves and puffy jackets at the Takoma Park market I frequent. They can can tell you about every day in the life of a head of tatsoi, and explain just how few chemicals were involved in its rearing. (This photo was taken in the warmer winter of ’08, at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market).
It’s fascinating to see that, just six years ago, Pennsylvania mom Kate Gosselin had to scour her area for organic food. Now it seems like 90% of the farmers at my local market grow without chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. And a healthy handful of them are from her own state!
List of markets after the jump.
Here are the year-round, low-pesticide, producer-only markets I know of. Feel free to comment if you know of others!
Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market – Sundays, 10 am to 1 pm during the winter and 9 am to 1 pm the rest of the year, near the Dupont Circle Metro’s North exit (99% producer only — the farmers who grew the food also sell it to you!)
Takoma Park Farmer’s Market – Sundays, 10 am to 2 pm during the winter, on Carroll Ave, 1/3 mile from the Takoma Metro stop (producer only)
Eastern Market – Saturday and Sunday, 7 am to 4 pm, 7th St. SE near Eastern Market Metro (mostly producers, I think. Some produce shipped from afar, so be sure to ask. If there’s a sticker with a PLU on it, you can pretty much figure it’s not from around here)
Alexandria Farmer’s Market – Saturdays, 5:30-10:30 am (some sources say only until 10 am), 301 King Street
One word of advice, now that you’re armed with the particulars of local foods buying: Know what’s in season, and stick to that. Just because something’s grown locally doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be tasty.
Take tomatoes. Right now, they’re all grown in greenhouses and come out as pale shadows of the rich, red gems you see in the summer. IMHO, you’re better off buying canned tomatoes, which were likely picked in season. You can get those organic, too!
On the other hand, greens apparently love the cold weather and do their best work with a dusting of snow on them.
So what’s in season or maintaining its flavor in cold storage now?
Squash (butternut, acorn, turban, delicata…)
Greens (kale, collards, tatsoi, mixed Asian greens…)
Apple cider (so good hot!)
So yes you can, and now you know how!