I recently learned about FarmPlate, a self-described “revolutionary online community that connects farmers, fishermen, foragers, food artisans, restaurants, markets, distributors and foodies everywhere.” If you’re a regular reader of the Friday blog, you know this sort of site is right up the Friday blog’s alley, as its author is increasingly interested in finding local sources of fresh, “real” food.
That’s become a goal because eating locally produced foods can be a way to know more about what you’re eating. Locally grown foods are likely more healthful than the processed packaged stuff that’s traveled hundreds of miles to crouch on supermarket shelves. My biggest priority, though, is that I believe locally produced and grown typically tastes better. In my book, that’s the point of eating.
Which is why FarmPlate is a great resource: It lets you search for “real food businesses” near you, from farmers’ markets to microbreweries to apiaries. The site includes a glossary of terms, phrases and catchwords relating to sustainable foods and farming (useful, as the site notes, if “you’re deciding between ‘free-range’ and ‘organic’ eggs at the farmers’ market”). FarmPlate also offers ways for real food businesses to promote themselves, network with other such businesses and connect with current and potential customers.
I’ve been a regular customer at our local farmers’ markets for years, but it’s been particularly interesting – not always in a good way – this year: Our early spring, recent three-digit temperatures and lack of rain have made a lot of produce arrive sooner than usual, while other crops departed quickly (I swear, locally grown spinach was here and gone in what felt like a week). Right now Iowa is awash in sweet corn – a welcome early arrival that I hope will stick around.
Midwest Living magazine comes to the rescue with a great “corn”-ucopia of recipes that use this summer-time treat, from sweet corn pizza to chowder to sweet corn ice cream. The recipe below is perfect for serving with tortilla chips or grilled meats, as bruschetta or straight off a spoon. You could even make this recipe a meal by tossing in a rinsed and drained can of black beans. Summer perfection!
Fresh corn and avocado Pico de Gallo
- 1 fresh poblano or Anaheim chile pepper, or 1 medium green sweet pepper (wear plastic gloves when handling hot peppers)
- 1 medium red, orange or yellow sweet pepper
- 2 cups grape and/or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, or 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped (2 cups)
- 1 cup fresh corn kernels (you also can use 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed, or one 8.75-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion or thinly sliced green onion
- 1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and chopped
Place whole poblano and sweet pepper on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 7 to 10 minutes or until skins are bubbly and blackened, turning occasionally. Carefully bring the foil up and around the peppers to enclose. Let stand about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Pull the skins off gently and slowly using a paring knife. Discard skins. Remove pepper stems, seeds, and membranes; discard. Chop the peppers.
In a large bowl, combine chopped peppers, tomatoes, corn, red onion, cilantro, lime peel, lime juice, garlic, salt and hot pepper sauce. Cover and chill mixture 4 to 24 hours. Stir in avocado just before serving.