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Spring is the best time for local produce
May 1st, 2012
Spring is my favorite time of year. As the weather begins to warm up and we shed our winter lives, we begin to clean out from our own hibernation.
Chef Jonah Levenberg
Even our tradition, through Passover, has us clean and prepare anew before celebrating the exodus from Egypt. Our gardens and fields are doing the same.
Farmer’s markets and side-of-the-road vegetable stands are my favorite places on earth. Driving along a small country road and pulling off to see what the local farmers harvested earlier that day gives me inspiration to create a culinary masterpiece at home for my family.
Last year at this time I was in Israel and walked the streets of “my” market, Machaneh Yehuda. From nuts to spices, fish and fresh produce, I watched longingly as my Israeli friends prepared for their coming meals.
My knives, pots and pans were thousands of miles away from these beautiful ingredients, so all I could do was munch on the bag of fresh dates and drink my coffee.
Gardening, unfortunately for me, is not my strong suit. I am furthest from a green thumb, so farmer’s markets are an important place for me to get the freshest produce possible.
While we are still a few weeks away from summer bounty, plan your schedules around local farmer’s markets. Throughout Milwaukee and the suburbs there are countless places to find the best and the brightest fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Two years ago while visiting family in New York, I stumbled upon an amazing farmer’s market in Greenwich Village. As I meandered through the stalls, coffee in hand, with no set place to be, I watched numerous chefs examine produce, as they spoke softly to themselves about what they could do with it.
This was a perfect example of farm to table, a new buzzword in our society, but a reality in so many restaurants in New York, Chicago, and some right here in Milwaukee.
Each day as I pull into the Karl Jewish Community Campus, I look to my left as I walk in and check out the growth of our Jewish Community Garden. The garden is growing and will soon provide a bountiful harvest of beautiful herbs and vegetables for our Gan Ami children and users of our Jewish Community Pantry.
As we get closer to summer, take a moment to think about growing fruits and vegetables in your garden. Or, if you are like me, find the farmer’s market in your area.
Roast them, toss them into a great salad, or grill them. However prepared, fresh, locally grown produce just cannot be beat.
Chef Jonah Levenberg is director of food services at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center.