Celebrate the best time of year for fresh produce in South Florida! On a recent Saturday, the fresh vegetable enthusiast that I am, ventured down to the Southwest Farmers Market at Tropical Park (open year-round, Saturdays from 9 am - 3 pm) to experience what they had to offer. The Urban Oasis Project local produce farm stand was the main draw for me but there were other vendors to see as well.
Miami has many Farmers Markets to choose from but most provide produce that is bought from the same distributors that sell to Whole Foods, Publix and Fresh Market and may even be imported from outside of the US. The Urban Oasis Project three markets at The Arsht on Mondays, the Upper East Side and Southwest Market at Tropical Park on Saturdays offer only locally grown produce, grass-fed beef and pork, free-range organically fed eggs and more.
The farms in South Florida were hit hard by Hurricane Irma, so it is even more important to support our local farmers and their farms even if the produce may not as plentiful as in past years. But, right now is high season for fresh produce and fruit and those gorgeous juicy fresh tomatoes should be reason enough to visit.
Do you know what time they have to be up to pick the produce? The answer is 2 am, because of the heat as the day progresses. Now, that is dedication and hard work. It is the least we can do to “shop local” besides eating organic and fresh food.
The Urban Oasis Project, a non-profit that believes “good, clean, healthy food should be accessible to all” is run by Art Friedrich and a slew of committed volunteers. In fact, for the past few years, Urban Oasis has accepted EBT/SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Urban Oasis offers double the value up to $20 of SNAP and that can make a difference in nutrition and eating habits for those who are on a limited income.
What did I score on this visit: arugula, mushrooms, strawberries, corn and tomatoes. I arrived at this market on Saturday early afternoon and by then they were almost wiped out. So get there early if you want the best selection!
What to do with those yummy tomatoes?
RECIPE: Lentils with Tomatoes
1 quart water, 1 cup dry lentils, 3 tablespoons EVOO olive oil, 1 green pepper, chopped, 1 medium onion, finely chopped 2 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped, 1 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper to taste
1. In a pot, bring the water to a boil and stir in lentils. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain water.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the green pepper and onion until tender.
3. Mix in the tomatoes and season with salt, pepper and cumin. Stir in the lentils.
And Voila! you have a hearty salad that can be served warm or cold over a tasty bed of greens. Perhaps my arugula!! Buen Provecho!
Visit your local market and support local farms and farmers!
Every Saturday: Markets at Tropical Park 9-3PM, 7900 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33155 Bus lines 40 and 82.
Upper Eastside Farmers Market at Legion Park, 9-2PM, 6601 Biscayne Blvd. Bus lines 3, 51 and 62.
Every Monday: Market Mondays at Arsht Center, 4-8:30 PM, NW 13th St and Biscayne Blvd. Free parking south of market.