First vege shop

Saturday is the day for the Riverside Markets in Taupo from 10am until 1pm. I dropped off Steve for work, went for a swim and then hit the markets with $100 in hand ready to buy my vege heart out.

My first obstacle on the 100km challenge was to browse through all the stalls and find out where the produce had come from. I was a bit disappointed in that there are no meat or cheese stall holders here as well. How is that possible? Surely we have great locally produced meats and cheeses available for sale direct from the producer?

I have made a list of what is in season at the moment in order to ensure our main meals are focused on seasonality. This means the following are all on the OK menu list:
Apples, broccoli, cabbage, capsicums, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber (telegraph), garlic, kiwifruit, kumara, leeks, lettuce, limes, mandarins, mushrooms, onions, parsnip (gross!), potatoes, pumpkin, radishes, silver beet, spinach, spring onion, sprouted beans, squash, swedes, turnip and watercress.

What I didn’t count on was that even though the food at the stalls is “locally” produced my 100km radius was out the window. My first purchase was avocados for guacamole this week and some salads. These were from the Hawkes Bay. After having a chat to the stall holder I have come to realise that due to the low temparatures around Taupo it is not the greatest area for vegetable growing. Hot house produced products just don’t have the flavour and so I may have to relook at my radius or being more productive with what I can get. I will go for the latter option at this point until I can investigate every avenue first.

My second stall purchase was more successful. Free range eggs from Cackle Hill Farm, Taupo. Next were my carrots, watercress and broccoli from the Ohakune stall holder. Darn it, even they are 135km from Taupo so again outside my radius. Fail again.

Finally, I ended up on Rifle Range Road at Lake Taupo Fresh fruit and vegetable store. What I did like here was that for the most part all the produce had a sign provided to say where it had come from. Knowing the providence of an item is somewhat satisfying even if it was disappointing to find that the only thing really I could get from within my radius were the free range eggs already purchased directly from the producer.

It would seem that growing my own produce might be the way to go however there are 2 issues with this, well actually 3 issues – patience (which I have little of), green thumb (which I am trying to foster but wouldn’t bet my dinner plate on it), space (I rent so have to come up with a cost efficient and portable option).

From seeing my mum and dad grow their own produce another realisation is getting the right amount of product at the right time and picking the items you really want. It makes we wonder if there are other home growers out there with a need to swap produce. How cool would it be to have a network of local growers specialising in a particular item and then meeting to swap/barter or the like? Would it be viable? What if someone (mainly me) had a bad crop and wasn’t able to contribute. How do you ensure a particular standard of growing is met (a charter maybe?). Hmmm food (excuse the pun) for thought?

So now, I have a fridge full of “as near as I could get to being local” produce with the furthest item being from Blenheim. Who knew garlic was grown there? What meals can I create from this over the week and will I have better fortune next time in sourcing goods closer to home.