If you hate buying produce that has already passed its peak at supermarkets, you can save money by buying just-picked fruits and vegetables, with a much longer shelf life, at farmers markets across Cape Cod.
Supermarkets deserve credit for providing fresh produce in the dead of winter, even if some of it is imported from halfway around the world. But once summer comes, they can't compete with the just-picked bounty of local farms.
In June, sugar-snap peas are so tender and crisp they make a great snack food raw; if you want to cook them, steam for just a minute or two, drain, and add a little fresh lemon zest. July brings a variety of cabbages; combine them with carrots to make this creamy cole slaw from Gourmet. August belongs to tomatoes; slice them thickly, sprinkle with sea salt, add chopped fresh basil, and drizzle with a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil for a stellar caprese salad, such as this one from Epicurious.
Along with fresh produce, most markets have purveyors of bread and bakery items, seafood, eggs, cheese, plants and flowers, and any number of ancillary products, such as homemade soaps. Some invite local artisans and craftspeople to sell their wares. There's a festive, collegial atmosphere, which makes it a great place to introduce children to new -- and healthy -- food choices.
Weekly farmers markets on Cape Cod this year include:
- Falmouth: Thursdays noon-6 p.m. at Peg Noonan Park, Main Street, through Oct. 14
- Hyannis: Wednesdays 8 a.m.-noon at Youth and Community Center, 141 Bassett Lane, through Sept. 8
- Mashpee: Wednesdays 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Mashpee Commons, Steeple Street and Jobs Fishing Road, through Oct. 30
- Orleans: Saturdays 8 a.m.-noon, 21 Old Colony Way, through Nov. 27
- Provincetown: Saturdays 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Commercial and Ryder streets (across from Town Hall), through Dec. 4
- Sandwich: Tuesdays 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Village Green, Route 6A (across from the fish hatchery at 164 Route 6A), through Oct. 26
One caveat: Everything looks so good it's tempting to overbuy! Even just-picked produce will eventually spoil, so make sure to buy only what you and your family can consume in a week's time.