April is for Farmers Markets

April is for Farmers Markets

Farmers Markets are back in swing and bursting with produce. Even though we have access to almost every food in all seasons, April is the best time to get seasonally young produce before the summer growing season. Shopping seasonally helps support local farmers trying to make a living by farming sustainably and within seasons. To make a profit, they are limited by when their produce grows. April is the first month most produce is ready to take to market. Vegetables that are in their prime in March/April typically have been dormant all winter and are more nutrient-dense and packed with flavor than later mature summer vegetables. Specifically, the "brassica family" like Brussel sprouts, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage take the spotlight now. These tough veggies were made stronger by winter chills, and the nutrients to survive to make them more powerfully packed than artificially grown, water-dense, tomatoes and cucumbers. Those water-heavy veggies come in handy in July. April gives us a tiny window of time to access delicious produce that will be out of season by May. So if there's any time to check out a local farmers market, do it in April.

Don't let Hannibal Lector spook anyone from the merits of Fava Beans. Fava Beans are often used to boost nutrients in the soil over winter and are delicious in April. The season for Fava Beans is so short they will unlikely ever be brought to mainstream grocery stores. They are often planted in fall and start growing in Feb. Acquiring Favas requires a trip to farmer's market in April. Martha Stewart: 15 Fava Bean Recipes You Need to Try This Spring

"A Harbinger of Spring in Vegetable Form" Asparagus is perineal, meaning it will recur year after year once planted. This also means that its seeds lay dormant through the colder winter months, making it exceptionally flavorful right at its first or earliest harvest. Get the first harvest in April. NYT: 25 Amazing Asparagus Recipes

Ramps are similar to a green onion, onion, and wild garlic. In some areas, ramps grow naturally in the wild. They can be used as onions in any recipe or enjoyed on their own. Bon Appetite: Everbody Freak Out: Our Favorite Ramps Recipes

The artichoke is actually a ginormous flower. They can grow through the summer and come up again briefly in October, but early spring is the best time to enjoy them. Look for leaves closely nestled together. The Fresh Market: Skillet Charred Artichoke Hearts