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A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious

Entries in Farmers Market (3)


2014 Locavore Index: See Where Your State Ranks in Local Food!

By Elisabeth Veltman, The Tender Foodie

Why Local?  Quick List.

Throughout the last couple of years, we've discussed the importance of locally grown foods, as well as those grown with organic practices. There are many reasons why "local" and "organically grown" are part of the passion of this blog. The short list is that if you buy from your local farmer, you know where your food comes from and whether or not the farms use lots of pesticides, or GMO seeds. You can also get your produce more freshly picked and that often means better taste and a higher nutrient content. Last on the short list, but not least, smaller farms encourage diversification of the soil.

Soil is the immune system of the farm, and just like the gut in our body, soil needs a variety of crops and a healthy spectrum of good bacteria. With local, you have the added opportunity to taste the amazing diversity that heirloom seeds can bring to your palate.  Yum.

Read more about good bacteria: Probiotics, the "Good Guys" in our gut


2014 Locavore Index

On April 7, 2014, Strolling of the Heifers, a Vermont-based local food advocacy group, released its third annual Locavore Index, a state-by-state ranking of their commitment to a local food culture. Through this index, the group hopes to encourage and strengthen the availability and quality of local foods. Indexes like these also inspire a little competition. I'm hoping that my latest home state of Michigan, currently at #26, will take a look at this and support those working to get us into the top ten.

The index itself is very interesting. It ranked the states based upon four sets of criteria, and on a per capita basis:

1. The number of farmers markets

2. The number of CSA's

3. The number of food hubs

4. The percentage of schools with a Farm-to-School program (yes, this exists!)

I was surpised to see North Dakota ranked as #7, Iowa as #10, and Idaho as #11 because these are all typcially big farm states who supply big food companies, not necessarily local markets.

Texas was dead last, with Nevada, Louisiana and Arkansas lingering along with it on the bottom.

I expected Colorado, New York and California to be in the top ten, but they ranked at #21, #23, and shockingly, #38, respectively. However, Rhode Island moved up from twenty sixth place in 2012, to eleventh place in 2013, and to #6 in 2014! Now THAT'S the way to respond to an index! Delaware made extraordinary progress as well, moving up from fourty-fifth place in 2012 to #18 this year.

So, see where your state ranks on this list, and remember that a great deal of change can happen in just one year if even a small group of people care about their health and the health of their farms and farmers.

Read the FULL INDEX HERE, and find their top ten reasons to buy local.




Wednesday Night at the Fulton Street Farmer's Market

Kohlrabi, a member of the cabbage family in the likeness of something, perhaps in a Harry Potter movie (when not cleaned up).

Open on Wednesday Evenings

The Fulton Street Farmer's Market has new evening hours on Wednesday night, which I love.  I visited the market on their opening Wednesday evening last week.  I was pleased with the variety of vendors who showed up.  It was also much less crowded, somewhat empty, in fact.  Here's a little pictorial preview of what I found. 

Raw Honey, and a sweet vendor who doesn't say too much.

Organically grown (but not certified) herbs from PawPrint Farms

Organically Grown But Not Certified

I'm fascinated by farmers who are taking steps to grow organically, even though they do not opt for certification, and I love to chat with them about their practices.  Organic Certification is a very important standard for our food for many reasons - including the testing for and elimination of GMOs.  But this does not mean that we can't find fantastic, responsibily grown,  non-certified products from our local farmers that follow the same (or similar) standards. It's tough to receive organic certification and it's very expensive.  I often find the farmers who grow organically to be just as knowledgeable as those who are able to reach for that coveted seal.  Farmers who grow organically, certified or not, have to work with their neighboring farms to keep their neighbors' pesticides from wafting onto their crops.  That waft of chemicals can be significant and so can the waft of GMOs from farm to farm.   Corn farmers, for instance, need their neighbors who also grow corn to plant non-GMO seeds.  Otherwise their crops can cross polinate with the non-GMO crops that farmers have fought so hard to plant.  Get the picture? 

A little flower power


According to the USDA Economic Research Service, 90% of soy crops produced in the United States, 86% of corn and 93% of cotton are genetically modified.  About 80% of our processed foods contain GMOs (think soy lecithin, sugar from GM sugar beets, and high fructose corn syrup).  Much of this is due to cross-pollination.

It's more important than ever to support our local farmers, especially those who are working toward becoming organically grown.



Paw Print Farms grow some lovely herbs.  Picked up this one that is new to me.  It is supposed to taste like cucumber.  Do you know what it is?

Picked up this herb from PawPrint Farms. It's supposed to taste like cucumber.

 I found some great kale and greens from Sole Powered Farms.  The freshest kale I think I've ever tasted.


A new organically grown farm at the market. Sole Powered Farms.Dognip. Natural treats for your pet. Wish I had a dog to buy them for!

I love the grass fed ground lamb from Crane Dance Farms.   They also have lamb chops.  Try this recipe for lamb chops with rosemary.   Grass fed lamb has 50% of the Omega 3's as salmon (that's alot) and is higher (than grain fed lamb) in Vitamins B12 and B3, tryptophan, and thyroid and immune system-loving selenium.  According to our participating docs, grass fed meat also digests more easily.

I also picked up some terrific eggs.  Beautiful and tasty.



These cloth hats and bowls are fun.


So will I see you at the Market on Wednesday nights?  Stop me if you see me, would love to chat.


More Posts from Elisabeth


Make Me Over Gluten-Free (Review: Mineral Fusion Make Up)

Interview with Alessio Fasano, M.D. (Part I):  Should Anyone Eat Gluten?

10 Steps to Living Allergen-Free and Doing It Well

The Gifts of "No"

My Chat with Crave & The First Gluten-Free Winner of Cupcake Wars!


About Elisabeth

Writer, owner of Blue Pearl Strategies, and lover of all culinary delights, Elisabeth is a Tender Foodie. She started The Tender Palate, a website for foodies with food allergies where she consults with experts from every area of the Tender Foodie life. She believes that everyone should live deliciously and have a healthy seat at the table. Find her at


Garden Organic: The Battle of the Blight

In the Beginning

It started last year with little black spots on my oregano.  I was surprised.  Maybe this plant (whose oils are usually powerful enough to resist anything) wasn’t getting enough sun.  But I was quite sure that Adam and Eve had never seen little black spots in their garden.  Then the spots spread to my precious mint and tarragon.   I did what the Internet told me to do and cleared out all of the infected leaves, bagged them and trashed them.  I started spraying every leaf with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water every single evening.  It seemed to work.  But after a week of heavy rain and strong wind, the blight spores waved their little victory flag and left that discriminating corner of herbs.   It attacked the zucchini (dead quickly) and then spread to my prized tomatoes.  Those flippin' spots soon felled so many leaves that the tomato plants looked like their proverbial loin clothes had been ripped off – love apples exposed.  My rosemary and cucumbers even got it (and I’m not saying anything proverbial about the cucumbers).  

The spots didn’t affect any of the vegetables directly until late in the season.  But without leaf cover, the produce throughout the summer was thin at best.  My plants were prematurely balding and not in a sexy, high-testosterone kinda way. 

And my greens.  Oh my 10 different varieties of health-giving greens that were so bountiful in the past provided no garden-to-table salad last summer.  

Lessons Learned:  Tenderly Nurture

The Fulton Street Farmers' Market in Grand Rapids, MI
In past seasons, I’ve learned that if you plant a seed, it comes up miraculously bringing joy and love to all with appetites.  I have also learned that 25 zucchini plants can fuel a small restaurant for 3 months.  

This summer, I thought my lesson was about control because infuriating stuff happens that interferes with the miracle of food and sends you to the grocery store instead of the dirt behind your house.  But my lesson is really about nurture.  A little knowledge from the experts can help keep the love coming from backyard to table.  

I found my first lead at the Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids, MI.

UnPesticidal Advice:  How to Control Leaf Spot

I had contacted several experts throughout the year and no one wanted to touch this one.  I almost gave up, dumped a bunch of manure on the land and left it for a year.  Or maybe forever.  But the gardening bug bit again this spring and I was so excited to play in the dirt that I simply I had to try.  

First Expert: Trillium Haven Farms

When I went to the Fulton Street Farmers’ Market a couple of weekends ago, I hesitantly picked up heirloom tomato and pepper plants.  Then I spoke to Trillium Haven Farm owners Anja Mast and Michael Vanderbrug.  We had a very interesting conversation and were kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Rainy Day Advice From Michael VerBrug from Trillium Haven FarmsTheir Advice:  Build up the immune system of your soil.  Soil is like your own immune system and 75% of yours lies in your intestines.  Your intestines, like the soil, need a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals to absorb into your body.  Your intestines also need the right balance of friendly bacteria in order to digest those nutrients so they can be absorbed.  Maintain this delicate balance and you thrive.  

Plants need this kind of harmony in their soil’s immune system as well.  In my gardening life, I’ve learned that not all plants need the same mix of nutrients.  Some plants need more acidic soil where there is a lot of iron (like azaleas).  Some plants need more of an alkaline soil.  According to the National Gardening Association, tomatoes need a pH between 6.0 and 6.8. 

As Michael pointed out, if your plants don’t get enough of the specific nutrients they need, they simply can’t fight disease.

This is a concept that hits home for me, and for anyone whose own immune system has issues -- food allergy-related or otherwise.  Anja and I discussed plainly that we are what we eat – but not only because of the fruit or vegetables we put into our mouths.   We can truly benefit or suffer because of health of the soil from which our foodstuffs arise.  

So, good information, but how do you organically change the pH and nutritional content of your soil?

Second Expert:  Morgan Composting

Since you don’t know what you are going to get in your compost or aged manure from traditional companies, Michael recommended that I give Morgan Composting a call.  They sell completely organic, aged cow poo, worm casings… all kinds of earthy stuff for your garden.  They balance their products to enrich and maintain the health of your soil no matter what.  

I emailed Morgan’s and Alyson wrote me back.  Here is what she said:

First, our DairyDoo compost is a great start.  It will definitely get some good beneficial organisms in your soil to counteract the bad bugs...blight. I would apply it this year at a rate of 1/2 inch, over the entire garden.  This will ensure that the blight doesn't get into the walkways, and repopulate. If you did this, you will need about 2 yards (a pickup truck full).

Second, I would recommend using a summer foliar of fish Hydrosolate.  We use MultiBloom, which is real easy, and convenient to hook up to your hose. You can spray this once a week throughout the summer.   It is a fertilizer, but you would get more benefit from the essential oils, and also the minerals that fish has to offer.  It is also a systemic, and will go to work right away.  We sell those bottles for $12.95ea.

You can find these products at any of our fine local retailers, which are located on our website,

Third Expert:  Friends and Friends of Friends

I had also spoken to a coOrganic Heirloom Tomato and Pepper Plants from Trillium Havenuple of friends about their battles with blight.  Many gardeners are having this problem.  One person suggested lime (from limestone).  I asked Alysson about this at Morgan’s Composting.  She said that this might be helpful, as calcium can help in the battle of the blight, but the nutrients in the compost and oils in the fish Hydosolate will be the key.  She suggested getting a bag of high calcium (not dolomite, or high magnesium) lime.  The calcium content needs to be higher than the magnesium, because too much magnesium can cause a fruit rot in tomatoes.  So I picked up a 40 lb bag and spread half of it on the entire garden today.  If that goes well, we’ll do the other half.  It is supposed to be "non-toxic", and my dear father found me a pelleted version, so the dust was less annoying.  I didn’t wear a mask, but I would recommend doing so anyway.  Blagh.

Another friend of a friend battles blight in wet weather by dusting her tomato plants with powdered milk.  How interesting is that?  Since I have dairy allergies, I’ll stick with the lime.  This weekend, I’m hoping to start step two - building the immune system.  That is if I can get to the nearest Morgan’s retailer which will be a bit of a drive.   I bet it will be worth it.

Wish me luck!  Now go get your poo, then let me know about your gardening adventures and your battle with the blight.