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Living in the Hudson Valley has many perks including our access to farm fresh produce.  I love the concept of buying and eating locally, and our area provides an abundance of choices. I also believe it’s important to expose my girls to the concept of knowing where our food comes from.   But, when the season is over and winter settles in, local produce is hard to come by. ( There are local CSA’s available but with two picky eaters and my lack of cooking skills, I fear too much would be wasted.) All summer we shopped at our favorite farm stand, Sycamore Farms, and our local farmer’s market right up until the leaves began to fall.  Then, it was back to the grocery store to buy my produce; food shopping became a chore once again.  So, when my mom invited me to accompany her to Bialis Farms Winter Market, I grabbed my bags and headed over.

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Bialis Farms is located in New Hampton and hosts a winter market on select days  November through February.  It is a rustic shopping experience that exudes all the charm of a traditional outdoor market except it’s  held in a large barn with crates of onions piled high to the ceiling.  The produce is set up farmer’s market style and is colorful, fresh and abundant.  I was able to purchase all the produce needed for Thanksgiving dinner, which I host every year.  In addition to the vegetables, Soons Orchard was there as well selling apples, pies and pastries for the holiday.

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The market was not limited to produce.  There was a children’s table set up with crafts and free refreshments.  There was  Eli, the Goat from Edgewick, for the kids to meet and pet.  There were additional vendors peddling their homemade wares: baskets, crafts, hot sauces, jams, cheeses, and soaps.   While there, I received a lesson on how to pop popcorn right off the cob; I will never go back to store bought popcorn again.  I went for the vegetables, but the market wasn’t just a place to buy your vegetables, it was an experience to be taken in and enjoyed.

It isn’t always possible or available to shop locally and get the freshest produce, so when a local farm makes it this easy, it’s worth the trip.  Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

 
A recent article in the Times Herald looks into the possibility of our schools buying food from local farmers.  From the article:

“We’d love to do fresh, but it all comes down to the bottom line,” said Washingtonville Schools Food Director Robert Gellman.

That’s enlightened thinking. Yes, forget about the health of the children. And as the article points out, all that “cheap” industrially produced food (often the cafeteria suppliers buy up government surplus) is heavily subsidized. We recently ran an op-ed piece in our other mag, Hudson Valley Life, about the true cost of food.

Here’s another food director quoted on the subject:

The Newburgh School District receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for three of its schools, said Andrew Calvano, the district’s food services director, who adds that the jury is still out on whether it has made any difference.

“We can give kids all the fresh fruits and vegetables they want, but getting them to eat it is up to them,” he said.

No, Mr. Calvano. It’s not about “getting them to eat it.” It’s about teaching them what good food is, by example and in science and health classes. It’s about integrating that with discussions of the local economy, of their neighbors who farm for a living. It’s about taking a plot of unused grass on school grounds and growing a vegetable garden as part of an ecology class. Science, nutrition, health, economics, home economics, community, ecology, math, literature–it’s all right there. And all these food directors can talk about is the bottom line and making kids eat their vegetables! What imaginations.

 Hudson Valley Parent will take an in-depth look at healthy school lunches in later this summer.

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