Community Food Rescue

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Recently, Central Farm Markets joined the food recovery revolution.  Every year, 23% of Montgomery County’s solid waste (246,000 tons) is from food. Meanwhile, about 80,000 residents experience hunger and may not know where their next meal will come from.

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For years, CFM has worked with Manna Food Center – the largest food recovery and distribution organization in Montgomery County.  We encourage farmers to donate unsold produce at the end of the market and to collect money for the agency. Now CFM has agreed to be a “Rescue Recruiter” for a new Countywide coordinated food recovery system called “Community Food Rescue.” CFR will enhance all food recovery efforts, like Manna’s and many other hunger relief organizations that already recover food throughout Montgomery County.

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Community Food Rescue (CFR) grew out of the vision of the Montgomery County Food Council. In 2012, inspired by a campus food recovery program organized by students at the University of Maryland, College Park, Councilwoman Valerie Ervin introduced the idea of coordinating food recovery throughout Montgomery County. Their Action Plan was adopted by County Council in September 2013. The Action Plan, along with funding from County Council and County Executive Ike Leggett, forms the basis of Community Food Rescue.

Under the support of the Montgomery County Food Council, the Food Recovery Working Group – comprised of businesses, agencies, and organizations actively engaged in food recovery – continues to advise and support the Coordination Team, which is charged with developing the overall strategy, design, and implementation of Community Food Rescue.

Manna Food Center leads the Coordination Team with Cheryl Kollin of Full Plate Ventures, who serves as Program Manager, and by and The Campus Kitchen Project of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) at the Universities at Shady Grove. UMES students provide a “quick response team” to pick up and deliver recovered food.

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Here’s how it works:

CFR seeks out licensed food businesses in Montgomery County (such as restaurants, caterers, groceries, farmers, farm markets, institutions, etc.) to donate their near expired and surplus food. Volunteer Food Runners then transport the donated food from the business to hunger relief agencies. These recipient organizations provide food (including shelf stable, frozen, fresh, or prepared) to people in need of emergency food supplies or meals. Food donors will be matched with food recipient organizations and volunteer food runners through a free, web-based app.

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There are three aspects to this equation: food businesses, volunteer food runners, and hunger relief  organizations. Central Farm Markets is helping to recruit the first two. The goal is to recruit participants now so that everyone can sign-on to the web-based app as soon as it’s ready in late summer.

In addition, CFR encourages participants to attend a FREE safe food handling training to learn how to handle and transport food safely.  The first training is scheduled for June 25th from 5-7pm. For more details and to register, click here.

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Volunteer food runner matches will be made based on proximity, size of vehicle to handle food, and your availability. This is an activity well suited for individuals, families, and groups with good driving records. You will help fill bellies instead of landfills. You can teach others the importance of empathy and compassion by giving us just a few free hours of your time. Do you work for a Montgomery County licensed food business, or know a food business that might be interested in donating food? We need those too!

Please email me if this is something that you would like to be a part of. There will also be information available at all Central Farm Markets info tents. I’m happy to answer your questions and we are excited to help Community Food Rescue in this amazing journey of food rescue in Montgomery County.

For more information about Community Food Rescue, visit their website and Facebook page.

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The Compost Crew

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Collect, Compost, Cultivate. That’s the idea behind the Compost Crew. They want to change your waste practices. They want to teach you how to support the organic waste movement. And at Bethesda Central Farm Market, they are starting a free composting program that will encourage children to compost in their homes! The CompostKIDS Program will begin at Bethesda Central Farm Market this weekend!

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The Compost Crew got its start in May of 2011. Co-founders Ryan Walter and Brian Flores, friends since kindergarten, decided that they wanted to grow food in “untraditional environments,” but they needed good soil to do so. Brian wanted to do more to make this rich, fertile soil available to others. His friends motivated him to create his own company, and the Compost Crew was born.

The pair decided they would launch the company once they had 15 customers. Between May and December of 2011, they acquired at least one new customer per month. In the Spring of 2012, the pair made a deal with the community of Somerset, which helped them secure 25+ new customers. Ryan worked on the website and communications, while Brian was in charge of collecting.

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In the early days, the Crew had a partnership with growingSOUL, where they could drop off their compost for a small “tipping fee.” Soon, they were in local farm markets on weekends, starting relationships with small communities, and consulting with larger towns to become a municipal service. In 2014, they went from 250 customers to nearly 1200 due to their partnerships with Chevy Chase and Takoma Park. They have been servicing these homes ever since.

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The development is moving along, but they are still missing a part of the puzzle that the guys find very important. Sure, they are collecting compost. And yes, they’re distributing the waste to a place where it could be sustainably taken care of. But Ryan and Brian want to complete the process – they want to cultivate the soil into a product that they can distribute and that could be used to restart the whole process again. They want to put their collected compost right back into the earth to create a network of farms to “close the loop” in the composting model. This is the next step for The Compost Crew.

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Starting on Sunday April 26, and continuing through Sunday, October 25, 2015, kids ages up to 12 will be able to join in the fun. This program will be available at only at Bethesda Central Farm Market. Learn more about how the program works.

The Culinary Nomad

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If you have visited the Bethesda or Pike Central Farm Markets you have seen it – the bright, big orange truck with the words “The Culinary Nomad” painted on the side. If you haven’t ventured over to the truck yet, make a point to do that, because you are in for a treat. There are people that come to our markets just to get their usual weekend morning breakfasts. Whether your favorite is the Southwest Chicken Sliders (watch out- they’re addictive!), or the legendary “Hot Mess,” there is something for everyone at this gourmet food truck.

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Valerie Logan loved food from a very young age. Her early years consisted of entire days revolving around dinner preparation; her punishment was shucking corn and every weekend her dad made breakfast for the family. She says her grandma specialized in “making the kind of Southern food you needed to prep your body for and nap for after eating.” Valerie’s love for food took her straight from high school to culinary school in Arizona. Valerie stayed with the family of one of her classmates in Arizona, which is where she discovered her love for Southwestern style cooking.

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Valerie, with the help of her now-husband, David, and her parents Debbie and Lewis Hoover formulated an idea that turned into The Culinary Nomad food truck. Valerie knew that she wanted to serve great Southwestern food and she had a brand ready to go. Getting the truck was the next step. Once she acquired her refurbished work van, she and The Culinary Nomad joined Central Farm Markets.

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Valerie specializes in cooking Southwestern breakfast dishes. Every week, market patrons come to delight in her regular menu items, as well as her weekly market specials. She uses as many fresh market ingredients as possible to feature and support other vendors. Debbie takes orders and schmoozes with the patrons, Lewis handles the orders, and Valerie’s father runs the frying station – it’s a family affair! Valerie says being in the truck is like being on a stage. It allows her to feed quality food to her customers while paying homage to the influential people in her life.

I asked Valerie to come up with a recipe for our blog. I wanted it to have that “Culinary Nomad” signature touch, but still work with the seasonal-based recipes that I like to share with my readers. What she came up with was a single-serving omelet with a grapefruit salad that I turned into a frittata recipe. The great thing about this recipe is that you can swap out the kale for any greens (such as spinach or chard), the honey mushrooms for mushrooms of your choice, and the green garlic for leeks or green onions. Be creative and make it yours!

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Culinary Nomad Frittata with Grapefruit Salad

INGREDIENTS

Frittata

  • 8 eggs (Liberty Delight Farms)
  • ½ tsp. truffle salt (All Things Olive)
  • 1/3-cup ricotta (Blue Ridge Dairy Co.)
  • 2 oz. farmhouse Muenster, grated (Stonyman Gourmet Farmer)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter (Springfield Farm)
  • 4 oz. honey mushrooms, coarsely chopped (The Mushroom Stand)
  • 3 stalks green garlic (Twin Springs Fruit Farm)
  • 3 cups chopped kale (Two Acre Farm)
  • Baguette (Upper Crust Breads – Farm Market Bakery)

Grapefruit Salad

  • 4 cups salad mix (Young Harvests)
  • 3 Tbsp. grapefruit oil (All Things Olive)
  • 2 large grapefruits, cut into wedges
  • 2 Tbsp. grapefruit juice (from cutting the grapefruit)
  • Truffle salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Whisk together eggs, truffle salt, ricotta, and grated cheese. Set aside.

Trim off the bottom root and rough tops of green garlic. Chop remaining garlic into thin slices and separate the top part of the garlic from the bottom.

Use butter to heat a large cast iron skillet or oven safe pan to medium heat. Add mushrooms and bottoms of green garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tops of green garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Stir kale into egg mixture and add mixture to pan. Place the pan in the middle rack of your oven. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the eggs have set.

Remove from oven and let rest while you prepare the salad.

Whisk together grapefruit oil, grapefruit Juice, truffle salt, and pepper. Toss over greens to coat. Plate salad with grapefruit wedges. Serve on the side of a slice of the frittata with a piece of toasted baguette.

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New Winter Vendors

The winter hours have started at Bethesda Central! This means the market begins at 10:00am and ends at 1:30pm. It also means that we have some new vendors joining us for the next few months! I was so excited to meet them this past Sunday, but I’m even more excited to introduce them to you!

Sexy Vegie Menu

Jumping off their Baltimore-based food truck and into our market, Sexy Vegie is joining us to serve delicious vegetarian and vegan ready-to-eat cuisine. The owner and founder, Ashwini, delights in bringing healthy food options without meat to her customers. I was overjoyed to sample a few of her culinary treats this past week, including:

Sexy Vegie Holiday

The Holiday; multigrain bread topped with a delicious homemade black bean patty, cranberry relish, grilled Portobello mushrooms, greens, and something called the “Sexy Vegie” sauce. This was a wonderful mixture of sweet and savory that completely satisfied my taste buds.

Sexy Vegie Protein Express

The Protein Express; two corn tortillas stuffed with a black bean patty, avocado salsa, Sexy Vegie sauce, lettuce and tomato. Again, I couldn’t believe how satisfied I was after just a few bites of this delicious, nutritious meal.

Next week, Ashwini will begin selling take-home containers of her delectable lentil soup as well as pre-packaged homemade black bean patties. Stop by next week to try her healthy and tasty dishes!

Woodbourne Creamery

Coming to the market from Mt. Airy, MD, Woodbourne Creamery at Rock Hill Orchard is selling some of the best milk I have ever tasted in my life. It was as if the cows produced a cream-flavored milkshake without all of the sugar. The first thing I noticed was the color of the milk; a rich, creamy off-white. Not only was the quality clear, but the nutritional value provided by such a natural product could not be denied!

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I learned a little about the cows; a breed called Golden Guernsey that produces more milk with more nutrients than any other cow. The milk has high levels of Beta Carotene, vitamins B1 and B12, lower cholesterol and higher naturally occurring Vitamin D. The genuine happiness of the cows on the dairy farm is also evident. Woodbourne uses what is called a Voluntary Milking System, or “VMS,” to milk the cows. Essentially, whenever the cows decide they want to be milked, they simply step into the milking system! I cannot wait to learn more about this operation and visit the dairy farm in the future. Stop by their stand at the market for a taste of their regular or chocolate milk!

Red Bandana menu

Also new at our market is a local business that goes by the name of The Red Bandana. Jamie, the owner, graduated from culinary school and decided to open up a small, fun bakery business that caters to people who desire gluten-free, vegan and other healthy options. This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to try her Chocolate Orange Biscotti. As a pastry chef myself, I can tell you first hand how hard it is to make something tasty from gluten-free ingredients. This biscotti was a perfect balance of sweet and crunchy without being obviously gluten-free. I loved the chocolate orange flavor and I can’t wait to try the other treats this little bakery offers!

Red Bandana Products

Also coming to us from Pike Central Farm Market is DC Dills, a company that sells delicious varieties of pickles such as wasabi, bread and butter, and garlic spears. They are more than happy to give you a taste before you commit to a purchase, and they love to discuss their pickling process with you!

So stop by the market next week and come meet the new members of our family. Lets make them feel welcome and assure they have a great winter season with us!

Also, don’t forget about the winter customer loyalty card. Stop by the info tent to receive your card. Any four times you come to the market throughout the winter season, you’ll get a $5 gift certificate to use at any of our markets. Attend all the winter markets and receive an additional $10 gift certificate – so you’ll get a total of $25 to spend at the markets!

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We look forward to seeing you soon! Happy New Year and stay warm!