Even though Hurricane Irene has been all but forgotten here in New York City, not everyone was so lucky.
While transportation schedules are back on track, water has receded, and power is back on, there is one group that might be feeling the effects of the hurricane for days and even months to come: our local farmers.
According to the New York Daily News, more than 80 percent of tristate area farms were severely damaged during the storm. Even worse, growers told the News that much of the upcoming crop—spinach, carrots, potatoes and winter squash, for example—was completely destroyed.
Ryan and I were disappointed to hear the news and knew right away that we wanted to help, but short of parting the floodwaters, Moses-style, and recovering the lost crops, what could we do? The best thing, it turns out, is something we already do: keep shopping at our favorite greenmarket.
Farmers warn that selections might grow increasingly sparse over the next few weeks, but as it stands now, the markets are still lush with beautiful heirloom tomatoes, rainbows of bell peppers, crunchy apples, verdant salad greens, and summer’s last sweet corn.
There are so many great things still available that we made a downright-decadent meal this weekend with nothing but goodies from the greenmarket.
We started with two legs of duck confit from Hudson Valley Foie Gras, in Ferndale, New York. At just $11 for the pair, these legs were a legitimate steal.
Next, we stopped at Lani’s Farm, a farm located in Bordentown, New Jersey. Lani’s always has great salad greens, so we scooped up one of their best-looking mixes and also filled our bag with a colorful multitude of heirloom tomatoes. Our meal was shaping up nicely.
(Lani’s also happened to have really lovely eggplant that I think I will make a return trip for sometime this week.)
While we were at the market, I thought of a recipe I wanted to try from Thomas Keller’s cookbook Ad Hoc at Home, so we made another stop at Healthway Farms, an Ulster County, New York, farm that always has a multitude of different potatoes.
After picking up a few Katahdin spuds and with our wallet just a mere $20 lighter, we hopped back on our bikes and made the short ride home.
Once home, I cut up the tomatoes and salted and peppered them. What else could they possibly need? Ryan whipped up a sherry dijon vinaigrette for our greens and I ran the duck confit under the broiler for a few minutes.
The most intensive part of our otherwise labor-less meal was the scallion potato cakes from Ad Hoc. The potatoes we chose ended up being perfect for the recipe and we were rewarded with piping hot, crunchy cakes that had perfect hash brown texture on the inside and just the right amount of scallion.
This meal was just one of many that could easily be made with greenmarket ingredients and just a bit of time and not much money. While we love to support our farmers year-round, it’s now more important than ever. Can you imagine watching your crop literally floating away as one farmer described?
GrowNYC is encouraging New Yorkers to eat local the whole month of September, either by cooking a local meal everyday, hosting a greenmarket potluck or supporting one of the city’s many farm-to-table restaurants. Of course, supporting the greenmarket can also be as simple as grabbing a fresh peach on your way home from the gym.
If you’re not local, they’ve also set up a donation page, where the money you give goes directly to the farmers that we’re all so grateful for.