From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.
Question: Have you ever seen a sad person at a farmers’ market? Probably not, right? A leisurely weekend morning walk through Dupont’s stands of gorgeous produce and fresh-baked pastries is hardly the type of thing to bring up tears or frustrations. It’s an amazing experience to chat with the person who actually grew that perfect tomato you’re taking home, or to even learn that sweet potato greens exist (a very good thing, I assure you!). In Borderstan, we are very lucky to have multiple farmers’ markets available within walking distance, including the Dupont Farmers Market (Sundays) and the 14 and U Farmers Market (Saturdays).
As the local food movement takes off across the country, increasing research argues that where our food comes from, its environmental effects, and how food is processed affects not only our health, but also our economic well-being. Recently, NPR’s The Salt released this sobering analysis about the impact of meat consumption.
Real Time Farms a Nationwide Food Guide
In 2010, Real Time Farms, a crowd-sourced, nationwide food guide, opened its doors and website. Using data collected by citizens, Real Time Farms maps where, when, and what products are available from farmers, farmers’ markets, food artisans, and restaurants, allowing users to make informed choices about their food consumption.
Recently, I chatted with Rachel Lupberger, Real Time Farms’ DC Food Warrior. Charged with mapping the DC food landscape, Rachel will spend her summer interviewing, photographing, and filming members of the District’s local food system. Inspired by her childhood in the suburbs of DC and her undergraduate studies at Lewis & Clark College, she has been surprised to learn what the food system is like here.
Speaking of a recent visit to the Dupont Circle Farmers Market, Rachel said, “Finding out the closest farms are an hour, two hours, three hours away…there’s not really easy access to fresh produce in lower-income communities… I still think about it being a more [of a] middle class thing.”
As Rachel moves through her Food Warrior internship this summer, she has graciously agreed to keep us posted on her findings. To read more about her adventures, check out her Food Warrior webpage.
From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Follow her on Twitter at @frijolita and email her at alejandra[AT]borderstan.com
As someone who is constantly on the hunt for quality produce, dairy and meat, I was particularly excited to finally check out Smucker Farms of Lancaster Co. The owner, his family and a few local producers hosted a grand opening party where a number of food bloggers and local residents got to sample a variety of the items sold in the store
It’s a simple, unassuming store front — so much so that Tammy and I nearly walked right past it. Smucker Farms was founded by Eric Smucker, a Lancaster-native and long-time DC resident, to create a direct connection between producers in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and consumers in DC at their store at 2118 14th Street (just below W), which opened last November.
“I was between jobs as a result of the financial crash,” said Smucker. “It wasn’t a good time to be in finance! I was at home in Lancaster and felt the residents of DC were missing out on all the great produce and goods coming from where I grew up.”
The now settled into store features produce, meats, milk, cheeses, ice cream, gelato, baked goods, kombucha and more. At the moment, about 85% of the store features items or goods sourced or made in Lancaster County but they hope to flip that number to feature items or goods sourced from right here in DC. A few of the items that stood out to me were bottles from DC’s first kombucha microbrewery, Capital Kombucha, pickled items from Gordy’s Pickle Jar and pints of my personal favorite, Dolcezza Gelato.
Once you enter the store and realize just how big the space is, you appreciate how truly jam-packed it is with so many delicious things. Homemade pastas, crackers, specialty popcorns, “cookie in a jar” mixes (which made really lovely cookies by the way), jams, vinaigrettes, an entire case of a variety of cuts of 100% grass-fed beef, organic free-range chicken and sausages, a cooler stocked with fresh herbs, beets, lettuces, stir fry mixes and more, and a variety of spices that would make even the most well-stocked kitchen blush.
As if the “charm” factor wasn’t high enough, when Eric Smucker took to the daïs (an overturned wooden produce crate) to thank us all for coming, his mother asked him a question. “Is the grass-fed beef only fed grass, Eric?!” clearly tossing him a softball and making it all the more clear that Smucker Farms of Lancaster County isn’t some hippy/hipster, organic, locally sourced market — it was a family venture, something Eric Smucker wouldn’t or couldn’t have done alone.
“The building hadn’t been occupied since 2004 or 2005, and it was my father and I that did most of the demolition and build-out in the space,” added Smucker. “We had to tear up three layers of flooring to get to what you’re standing on now.”
Smucker then gave us the run down of all the blown up photos hanging throughout the store. “Those are chickens from our farm,” he said somewhat ironically. “And that’s my uncle sitting in a field on our farm. That’s the barn raising from my grandparent’s farm. And that’s a milk cow. Oh and that’s my nephew sitting on a tractor!” To which the group sighed a collective “awwwww.”
I have high hopes for the Smuckers’ store, and particularly see it filling a gap come winter when the markets shut down or it’s slim pickings throughout. Will you be making a trip to check it out soon? Or have you already? What did you guys think of it?
Smucker Farms of Lancaster County is located at 2118 14th St NW and is open from 9am to 9pm all week long.
The Farmers’ Market at 14th and U Streets NW opened for the season a couple of weeks ago. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. From the Logan Circle News on Yahoo! Groups listserv, here is a review of some of the produce that will be available tomorrow at the market:
New this week:
- Red beets and goat cheese ravioli at Copper Pot
- Beets at Garner
- Cai Gan (Chinese Broccoli Raab!)
- Braising Mix
- baby hakurei turnips
- Panorama’s NEW traditional French Baguette wasn’t