True To Its Name and Sweet As Can Be

Eleanor Dziuk knew there were plenty of beekeepers in Arizona, but she wasn’t seeing their honey for sale at local farmers markets, so in 2001, she set out to change that.

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Absolutely Delightful started when Eleanor connected with Dennis Arp of Mountain Top Honey to learn from his expertise and begin selling his products.

“Most beekeepers are very, very busy people,” Eleanor said. “They don’t have time to be at the markets.”

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Get the Most Out of Your Gourd

Fall is finally here! Even in the concrete jungle where the forecast still says 97 degrees, it’s time to celebrate! This Saturday at the market, Downtown Phoenix can enjoy a celebration of all things Autumn as we cozy up into a new season. At the market, there will be a costume contest, pumpkin carving station, Open Air scavenger hunt, pumpkin displays for adorable photo-ops, and pumpkin patches with a variety of Phoenix-grown pumpkins to take home. Of course, shoppers can also pick up fall flavors at almost every vendor booth, as well as market-roasted chiles for what bubbles in the cauldron at home.

All this fun begs the question: once the great pumpkin is chosen and does its decorative duty at the doorstep–what’s next? Cut it open and roast the seeds, leaving the body for compost? Use it as a doorstop in the home and see how long it lasts before rotting from the inside out? Find the local trebuchet and see how far it’ll go? Maybe we can suggest something better:

homemade pumpkin puree!

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Passion Found Under a Palm Frond

Recently, we heard of the devastating passing of Downtown Phoenix community member Monika Woosley. She left behind a powerful legacy that can only intrigue and inspire. Monika founded Hip Veggies in 2012 as an outlet for her passion for community, food, art, and outreach. Through Hip Veggies, among many subjects, she taught us about foraging in Phoenix; about how easy and fulfilling it can be and how important it is to our Arizonan culture.


This weekend, we honor her by digging into some foraging knowledge imparted by her foraging friend and colleague, The Green Man himself, Andrew Pisher. Andrew grew up in upstate New York and moved to Phoenix 13 years ago in search of sun. He is an entrepreneur to the core, always thinking up ways to embrace Mother Nature (literally–this is a man who seriously loves to climb trees) with his certification in urban farming and ongoing studies in nutrition.

Treelation, his tree trimming and removal company, works with residents through his Foraging Fanatics service to make use of excess from trees that bear edibles or have medicinal properties. Many residents are overwhelmed by the harvest, leaving it misunderstood, unwanted, and disregarded. With Foraging Fanatics, Andrew is able to accrue pounds and pounds of excess fruits, herbs, legumes, and nuts native to our state. He then sells that harvest in bulk through his website, thus making would-be rotted or dried out trash profitable. Andrew’s business, and foraging in general, is a win-win for our ecosystem and its inhabitants. 

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Some Like it Raw

Walking the farmers market can be a very inspiring journey. In each aisle, shoppers might find a fruit they’ve never tasted, maybe a condiment they’ve never thought of, or perhaps even a dog on a skateboard scooting by. For Kenny Hadley, the market inspired a total lifestyle change.

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Kenny has been a volunteer at the Community Exchange Table (CET) for nine years. Now, Kenny is known as the booth manager. His family, of Hadley Farmship, helped start the club through a local permaculture group. The operation is run completely by volunteers, and featured neighborhood growers and makers keep 80% or 90% of their profits (depending on the market they’re selling at).

The CET lately features the Orchard Community Learning Center, Sundown Ranch, two independent neighborhood locals who grow fruit and make all-natural beauty products, as well as Hadley Farmship. Growers and makers set their own prices. The Hadley’s also produce “Mom’s Tortillas.” Produce ranges from the exotic non-edibles that will catch shoppers’ eyes, such as loofah and pine-cones, to the all-familiar basil (bags of which they famously sell for just $1). Often, heritage seeds are sold next to the fruit they produce. Kenny recalls seeing huge stalks of sugarcane for sale at one market, but maintains that tart and sweet mulberries from their table are still the best thing he’s ever eaten in Phoenix.

Kenny’s perspective on produce in Phoenix is especially viable due to the fact that he has been eating exclusively raw vegan foods for five years this October. After watching “Food Inc.” in 2008, he had worked to cut “bad” foods from his diet progressively until 2012. At that point, Kenny was inspired to attempt a 10-day all-raw challenge by a fellow vendor at the market after hearing how great much it improved their overall well-being. His 10-day challenge became a life challenge.

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“Slow the Fork Down”

slow foodThe Phoenix Division of the Slow Food Movement is gaining traction in our community, where the focus is placed on local culinary heritage and social justice. The Slow Food Movement, globally and nationally, aims to deepen the public’s awareness surrounding our food systems and how they affect just about every aspect of our livelihood on this planet. A daunting task, surely, so let’s start with lunch.

Slow Food Phoenix’s most recent project is entitled “Feeding the Future,” during which attendees will sample diverse dishes made by a bold lineup of beloved chefs, including Charleen Badman of Scottsdale’s FnB and Eddie Hantas of East Valley favorite Hummus Xpress. There’s a twist to this sampling event, though: each chef’s budget will reflect the current National School Lunch Program (NSLP) budget, and will be served in the style of an American school lunch.

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EWG’s Guide to Shopping Produce

Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, ranks pesticide contamination of 48 popular fruits and vegetables.  Every day, consumers rely on EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to help them make the best choices for their families and reduce their exposures to toxic pesticides.

One major benefit of shopping at the Open Air Market is talking to the growers directly about their produce and practices so you can make the most informed decision.  Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to help you navigate your purchases and direct your questions to know more about the fruits and vegetables you are buying.  Our growers use a variety of techniques and alternatives to pesticides.  Learn for yourself by visiting your local farm stands this Saturday at the Market.

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Bees, Food, and You

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Bees, Food, and You: What You Need to Know to Protect Pollinators

There’s no getting around it: If you like to eat, you need to care about bees.

Bees don’t just pollinate the wildflowers that dot the landscape. They’re also responsible for pollinating nearly 100 crops that humans rely on. From tomatoes to cotton, bees pollinate the crops that sustain us. Without bees visiting their crops, farmers wouldn’t be able to produce as much food with their land. This would lead to big price increases at the grocery store and farmers market and a dwindling selection of fresh food. Some crops might disappear completely, including watermelons, almonds, squash, and avocados. Even coffee relies on bees to increase its yield through pollination.

Bees’ impact isn’t limited to fruits and vegetables: Livestock production relies on bees to pollinate alfalfa, buckwheat, and other animal fodder, and the rangelands used to graze pastured cows and sheep provide foraging and nesting habitat for bees.

It’s clear that humans have a vested interest in saving bees. But how can the average person make a difference? Here are a few changes you can make today to protect the environment for tomorrow:

1. Stop Using Pesticides

Pesticides are a major contributor to declining bee populations. Not only do some insecticides kill bees directly, but other pesticides can interfere with bees’ ability to forage and reproduce. While the most attention has been paid to conventional pesticides like neonicotinoids, even some organic products are toxic to bees. Instead of spraying around the home or garden, opt for bee-friendly pest control methods.

2. Choose Food Grown Without Pesticides

In addition to stopping pesticide use in your own home, start buying food grown without synthetic or organic pesticides. Unfortunately, there’s no labeling standard to make buying pesticide-free food easy; while organic food has its benefits, many large-scale certified organic growers still use pesticides. Buying directly from a local farmer whose growing methods you know and trust is the best way to ensure your food is truly pesticide-free.

3. Buy Pastured Meat

When rangeland isn’t overgrazed, it serves as an important habitat for bees. Bees dine alongside cattle, swine, and sheep in fields filled with forage grasses, and pithy plant stems and bare ground provide homes to cavity-nesting and ground-nesting native bees. That means that when you buy pastured meat instead of meat from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as factory farms, you’re supporting bee health.

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10 Farmers Market Facts

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  1. Creating Greater Opportunity: Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for new farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs allowing them to start small and test new products.
  2. Local Farming is not a dying trend: There are 3.5 times as many U.S. farmers over the age of 65 as there are under 35.
  3. Direct Producer to Consumer: According to the USDA, of the $3 billion in direct to-consumer sales in 2015, on-farm stores and farmers markets accounted for $2 billion, or 67 percent.
  4. Help the Environment: 4 in 5 market farmers use soil health practices like composting.
  5. Competitive Prices: Farmers Market unaffordable? Studies show comparable or lower prices than at supermarkets.
  6. Building Healthier Communities: The American Fitness Index includes the number of farmers markets per capita as a factor contributing to community health, using it as an indicator for community members’ access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
  7. Greater Access: 818k low-income seniors got fresh local produce at Farmers Markets through Senior FMNP in 2015
  8. Healthful Education: Farmers markets serve as invaluable educational sites and a rare bridge between urban and rural communities.  According to a study conducted by the American Farm Bureau, 72% of consumers know “nothing” or “very little” about farming or ranching.
  9. Strengthening the Economy: Farmers & ranchers get only 15.6 cents on the dollar. At the farmers market they get the whole hog!
  10. Creating Jobs: Growers selling local create 13 farm jobs per $1 mil in revenue. Those not selling local create three.

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cucumbers… or maybe you did

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  1. Cucumbers originated from Ancient India where they grew in the wild. Around 2-3 millennia BC, early Indian civilization managed to domesticate cucumbers and start infusing them into their rich cuisine. As time went by, manufacturing capabilities expanded, and they began to trade them with Middle Eastern civilization and Europe.
  2. Cucumbers contain multiple B vitamins, including vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B7 (biotin). B vitamins are known to help ease feelings of anxiety and buffer some of the damaging effects of stress.
  3. Cucumbers have have three main varieties –
    • “slicing” – grown to eat fresh and are mainly eaten in the unripe green form, since the ripe yellow form normally becomes bitter and sour. In North America, they are generally longer, smoother, more uniform in color, and have a much tougher skin.
    • “pickling” – are shorter, blockier and perfect for the pickle jar as well as the sandwich. Pickling cucumber plants yield heavy crops of fruit just over a few weeks.  They are never waxed. Color can vary from creamy yellow to pale or dark green.
    • “burpless” – are sweeter and have a thinner skin than other varieties of cucumber, and are reputed to be easy to digest and to have a pleasant taste. They can grow as long as 2 feet (0.61 m). They are nearly seedless.
  4. During 18th century, expansion of cucumbers across North America suddenly stopped when several medicinal journals started reporting that cucumbers and all similar vegetables that were not cooked represented serious health risk. Discouraged by those misconceptions, cucumber use plummeted across the continent, which was reversed only in 19th century.
  5. Placing a cucumber slice on the roof of your mouth may help to rid your mouth of odor-causing bacteria. Some say, eating cucumbers may also help to release excess heat in your stomach, which is said to be a primary cause of bad breath.

Discover delicious recipes and new ways to enjoy cucumbers this season.  We love the inspiration Bon Appetit shared here.

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