Thursday, October 27, 2011

Two Classes the Saturday!

Now that our gardens have been graced with cooler weather you may be finding that you have more bounty than you know what to do with! Come out to the Market at 10:30 am on Saturday to learn a variety of methods to preserve the harvest. Find out how to enjoy homegrown tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, okra, basil, & fruit in the depth of winter (or in the hottest part of summer)! We'll discuss canning, pickling, drying and freezing, complete with recipes!

Arugula! Yum!
Another way to put your fresh harvest to good use is by making green smoothies. At 11:30 am join Dr Dave of the Wilco Wellness Cafe to learn helpful info about improving your health with different delicious green smoothies using local greens (including monument garden kale!), fruits, nutbutters and superfoods. Find out more at

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Buy Organic?

At the Monument Market we are committed to carrying only organically and locally produced items. But what is so great about organic produce anyway?

First, let us define "organic." At the base organic food has been grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides or pesticides, but the essence of the difference between organic and conventional food systems is really about a difference in mind set about the relationship between humans and nature. Instead of hubristically trying to fight, sterilize and tame nature with chemical inputs, organic farmers work in tandem with, and learn from nature's cycles. Organic farmers know that nature is not something to conquer, but something to nurture as it nurtures us. In practice this manifests in soil building with the use of compost, returning from the soil what we have taken in harvest, and in creating biodiversity instead of monocultures so that pests and diseases have less room to take over. A diverse system is much more resilient than one of uniformity.

This holistic approach to agriculture produces food that is better for you and your children, better for the environment, and can produce more nutrition per acre than conventional food.

Better For You And Your Children
According to the EPA:
"Laboratory studies show that pesticides can cause health problems, such as birth defects, nerve damage, cancer, and other effects that might occur over a long period of time." 

"Pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth. Another way pesticides may cause harm is if a child's excretory system is not fully developed, the body may not fully remove pesticides. Also, there are "critical periods" in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual's biological system operates."

The 12 most pesticide laden foods to be sure to buy organic!
Earlier this year the Environmental Working Groups released a shopping guide that highlights the fruits and veggies with the most and the fewest pesticide residues - the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean 15." You can download it here.

There have also been a variety of health issues reported to be caused by Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's). It is believed that as much as 80% of processed foods in the average grocery store contain GMOs. You can assume that anything that contains conventional corn, soy, canola, or sugar beets probably has some GMOs in it. Because there is no law demanding that producers label their products if they contain GMOs, the only way to know for sure that what you are not eating them is to buy organic.

Our food is only as nutritious as our soil is healthy. Because organic farmers spend so much time and effort caring for the soil, that wide range of nutrients produces a healthier and more nutritious vegetable.  Not to mention the health benefits to growing your own organic food!

Better For the Environment
A healthy and fertile topsoil is one of the most important, and most ignored natural resources we have. Soil is a living dynamic ecosystem that we rely on everyday to provide the nutrition we need to survive.  The number one task for the organic farmer is care for this precious resource, cycling what would otherwise be waste back into the soil to then become the fodder for the next round of growth.

The edge of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico
Instead of this holistic cycling of nutrients, conventional farming relies on synthetic nitrogen, often in excess, which then can runoff into water ways, feeding algae blooms in rivers and lakes as well as the Gulf of Mexico. If the algae bloom is big enough, the algae use up all the oxygen in the water, creating a "dead zone" where no other life can exist. This year the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico measured 3300 square miles, the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

GMO's also add to environmental pollution. A large portion of GMO crops are "Round Up Ready," meaning they can be sprayed with Monsanto's Round Up herbicide without being harmed. This has caused a new breed of Round Up resistant "superweeds" to be appearing in field across America. This causes even more herbicide to be used. since 2006 herbicide use has gone up 48%, according to a study by the Organic Center.

This is not the image I associate with food!
And don't get me started about terminator seeds. Straight from science fiction, these seeds have been bred to not reproduce, so farmers cannot save the seeds of their harvest and have to buy more from Monsanto. Aside from the disregard for basic human rights and food sovereignty, the biotech companies are flirting with environmental disaster with this one. It is already been documented that genes from GMO crops can transfer to similar species - such as between canola and wild mustard. Just imagine what could happen if terminator genes spread between species. This foolishness alone makes me want to do what I can to boycott GMOs.

More Nutrition Per Acre
Motivated by a continuing rise in global food prices, in 2004 the UN began a study of organic agriculture and food security in 24 countries in East Africa. Over the course of the next 4 years the UN documented a 116% increase in crop yields when the farmers switched to an organic growing system. They also found that the farmers could save money on chemical inputs, favoring locally available organic inputs, thus having more money to spend on education and health care. This study confirms that the assertion that we need conventional agriculture and GMO crops to feed the world in nothing more than a well publicized myth.

Another study “Health per Acre: Organic Solutions to Hunger and Malnutrition” by Dr Vandana Shiva and Dr Vaibhav Singh released earlier this year, looks at organic farming in India. This study encourages food researchers to measure agricultural wealth, not in yield per acre, but nutrition per acre and posits that when studied under this lens, intensive, diverse organic farming can provide much more of the nutrients necessary for human health per acre than conventional agriculture.

Some, but not all of the producers at the market are "Certified Organic" meaning that they have been vetted by the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) to confirm, as quoted from the NOP's website "that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used."

If the producer is not certified organic, we review their practices to make sure that they meet our standards. Many small farmers grow using organic methods but do not have the finances or time to go through the rigorous paperwork required to be certified by the USDA. That's one of the great things about buying from local farmers, you can always go to their farm to confirm for yourself that they are growing sustainably!

Friday, October 21, 2011

A customer shares her Market finds...What's on your table?


In anticipation of the forthcoming cold snap, we had a delicious, comforting dinner last night that was filled with treasures from the Market. I served creamy blue grits (Homestead Mill) topped with fried eggs (Vital Farms) and sausage (Richardson Farms). The meal was made complete with a salad made from fresh spinach (not sure of the source, but it was fresh and delicious). I topped the salad with some raspberries and walnuts (not from Monument Market, but needed some color and crunch!). I have attached some pictures. Thank you for continuing to offer local, fresh products. We love your place!


Hope, thank you so much for your wonderful pictures. Might we suggest some delicious Gala apples to go with that spinach salad next time you are in? We sure appreciate your patronage and look forward to your next visit!

Do you have a delicious dish you'd like to share with other Marketeers? Send an email to and share your culinary creativity with us!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Learn How to Grow Herbs!

Aromatic, beautiful, nutritious, medicinal and easy to grow and maintain, herbs should be a mainstay for anyone who loves to cook. You can't beat the culinary delight of few pinches of fresh herbs, growing an arms length from the kitchen, to enhance the flavor of your favorite dish. Come to the Monument Market 10:30am this Saturday, October 22nd to learn the secrets to growing a successful herb garden. The class will be repeated Wednesday, October 26th at 1pm. Whether grown in containers on your windowsill, or added to your vegetable or ornamental garden, everyone can and should grow herbs. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Notes from the Garden: Asian Greens

This week we've started harvesting some beautiful, huge heads of napa cabbage. High in vitamin A & C and calcium, this crunchy wonder is a fall season star. Use it in stirfrys, soups, wraps or make it into wonderfully light slaw. Napa cabbage slaw is a great side dish or easy potluck offering. My favorite way to enjoy napa cabbage slaw is on fish tacos! Yum!

Also fresh from the garden is baby bok choy, perfect stir fried with a bit of fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce and a splash of sesame oil. For a full, fast meal add fresh gulf shrimp to the mix and serve with Texmati Rice!

Spicy Napa Cabbage Slaw with Cilantro Dressing
Gourmet  | August 2008
by Ruth Cousineau

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 fresh serrano chile, finely chopped, with seeds
  • 1 head Napa cabbage (1 1/2 pounds), cored and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
Whisk together vinegar, sugar, ginger, oil, chile, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Let stand, tossing occasionally, 10 minutes.

Fish Tacos with Creamy Guacamole and Lime Napa Slaw
  1. 2 Hass avocados—halved, pitted and peeled
  2. 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt
  3. 1 small jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
  4. 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  5. 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  6. 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  7. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  8. 1 small head of napa cabbage, shredded (4 cups)
  9. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
  10. 2 pounds of your favorite fish, cut into 2 inch slices
  11. Ten 7-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  12. 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  13. Hot sauce, for serving
  14. Lime wedges, for serving
  1. Light a grill. In a medium bowl, mash the avocados, sour cream, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro and 3 tablespoons of the lime juice. Season the guacamole with salt and pepper and press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Brush the fish with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat until lightly charred and cooked through.
  4. To assemble each taco, spread a dollop of guacamole on a tortilla. Top with a piece of fish, a few tomato slices and a large spoonful of the cabbage slaw. Serve with the hot sauce and lime wedges.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Organic Pest Control Class!

tomato hornworm
This Saturday, October 15th, at 10:30am we'll be discussing how to control common garden pests without the use of synthetic pesticides. Come out to the Monument Market learn methods to keep a balanced biodiversity in your garden and defend your veggies from unwanted munchers! If the weather is nice we'll meet outside in the biergarten.

If you can't make it on Saturday, the class will be repeated Wednesday, October 19th at 1pm.

Let me know if there are any specific pests that you'd like to have included in the discussion by commenting here or e-mailing me at

See you there!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eat Local & Seasonal!

Yard Long Bean & Flower
One of the unique characteristics of the Monument Market is that we carry all local seasonal items. This means that everything is super fresh but that there will be many items that are only available at certain times of the year. Since we are not flying in apples from New Zealand or berries from Chile, we have to rely on the unique gifts that each season brings us. There’s no “jetlagged” food here!
We are lucky in Texas to be able to grow food year round. There are two natural lulls in the harvest in August/September, due to the heat, and in January/February, due to the cold. These slow periods might leave us with a few less choices, but they are short in comparison to the long winter that much of the country must wait through before they see fresh local produce again. 

You can break up most veggies into cool season lovers and warm season lovers. Generally leaves and roots are cool season lovers. This includes lettuce, spinach kale, cabbage, carrots, beets, radishes, and broccoli & cauliflower (which are really immature flowers).  Fruits, pods, and seeds are usually warm season lovers, such as tomatoes, beans, eggplant, okra, peppers and melons. There are a couple that defy this simplistic separation - sweet potatoes are a root that relishes the heat, and peas are a seed and pod that really prefer the cool, but most veggies follow the rule.

a super Armenian Cucumber!
Right now and into November is one of the most delicious times of year in Central Texas as it is still warm enough for the fruiting crops like cucumbers and okra, but cool enough to start seeing kale and bok choy and other yummy greens.

Why Eat Locally & Seasonally -

As soon as a vegetable or fruit is picked, it’s nutrients begin to break down. The sooner you can get a veggie from the soil to your plate, the more nutritious, not to mention delicious it will be.

It is more delicious, because it came fresh from your neighbors garden. Most grocery store food was bred to stand up to shipping abuse and to store well, not for flavor. Real food might not last as long on a truck, but it sure tastes better.

Local food is traceable to its source. This is important for food safety reasons. You can trust that the farmer is taking the correct precautions to avoid any food safety risks when you know that this is the same food she feeds her child and that his business relies on your satisfaction and good health. Most food safety scares happen when food from all over the world is streamed together, quickly spreading what may have been a minor problem and making it very difficult to isolate the disease origin.

Local food, especially when grown organically, has a much lower carbon footprint than food shipped from across the world. (More about Organic Food in a post coming soon...)

Secrets to eating seasonally:
Let your meal planning be inspired by what you find at the market or from your local farmer, rather than heading to the store with a specific recipe in mind.

Use our Harvest Calendar chart to get an idea of what veggies will be in season at the same time when planning recipes or flipping through cookbooks.

Get ideas from farmers and market managers for their favorite seasonal dishes. You’ll often find that those who love to grow food also love to cook and eat it!

Preserve the harvest! Freezing, drying and canning are great ways to have your favorite flavors even when they are not in season. I'll be teaching a "Preserving the Harvest" Class the last Saturday in October at 10:30am...

Here are some wonderful cookbooks that focus on seasonal cooking, but you may have to tweek some of the recipes to get them to fit our unique Texas seasons :

Local flavors : cooking and eating from America's farmers' markets  1st ed.
 Madison, Deborah.
Eating local : the cookbook inspired by America's farmers
 Fletcher, Janet Kessel.
Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen
  Anna Lappé & Bryant Terry
Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables
 John Peterson, Angelic Organics
The harvest eating cookbook : more than 200 recipes for cooking with seasonal local ingredients
 Snow, Keith.
Cooking in the moment : a year of seasonal recipes  
 Reusing, Andrea.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Backyard Chicken Workshop this Saturday!!!

If you've ever had a farm fresh egg, you'll know what a wholly different thing it is compared to a standard grocery store egg. The flavor is richer, the yolk more yellow and full, and they are better for you. According to a 2007 study performed by a  Mother Earth News  that compared pasture raised eggs from flocks across the country to USDA nutrient data for commercial eggs they found that eggs from hens allowed to graze on fresh pastures contain as much as

• 1/3 less cholesterol 
• 1/4 less saturated fat 
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids 
• 3 times more vitamin E 
• 7 times more beta carotene

Read more:

In the Market we carry eggs from Austin based Vital Farms who raise their hens on "plenty of salad and exercise."

Or you can raise hens yourself and only have to go to your backyard to find a superior egg! This Saturday at 10:30am in the Market, Pattie Meyers will share her 16 years of backyard chicken raising with us. She'll also have information about the current Georgetown codes pertaining to chicken raising. If you've ever thought about raising your own chickens, you don't want to miss this, but if you can't make it on Saturday, I'll be repeating what I learn in the class Wednesday, October12th at 1pm. Hope to see you there! I'm so eggcited! (Sorry - I couldn't bear to make it all the way through this blog post without some sort of egg-pun)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Notes from the Garden: Yard Long Beans & Armenian Cucumbers

If you are looking for new veggies to grow in your garden and wondering what is suitable to grow in our unique climate, especially through the hot part of the year, start looking through seed catalogues for varieties from the Middle East or South East Asia. Plants bred in these parts of the world can handle some heat. Mid East veggies have also been bred to survive on less water.

This immature Armenian Cucumber should be ready to harvest later this week!
We've got two such worldly veggies just getting ready to harvest in the Monument Garden. You may have seen Armenian Cucumbers earlier in the season from Fruitful Hill Farm. They developed quite following for thier sweet, juicy, and tender flesh. Also called Serpent Melons, these slightly fuzzy coiling fruits are actually melons, but resemble cucumbers more in taste. Unlike true cucumbers that can sometimes get bitter, I have never met a snake melon that bit back!

Yard Long Beans growing on the same trellis as the Armenian Cucmbers
The other exotic variety that will be appearing in the market later this week from our garden is the Yard Long Bean. I was inspired to grow these by some urban farmer friends in Austin as well as Windy Hill Farm, who brought us a steady supply of these superb green and purple beans this summer. Also called noodle bean, or snake bean, they are a variety of cowpea native to Southeast Asia, grown extensively in Southern China and Thailand. Quick growing, heat loving, delicious and good for you, yard long beans are a good source of protein, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, and a very good source for vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and manganese. You can cook them anyway you would cook a regular green bean!
It is too late to plant either of these heat loving veggies now, but keep them in mind when you start to plan your garden for next spring! Meanwhile, you can visit the Monument Market to try them. If anyone else has experimented with exotic vegetable varieties and found them suited for the Texas Heat, I'd love to hear about them!