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By Chef Todd

Fresh Eggs Are The Gateway Drug To The Farmers Market

“You pay FIVE DOLLARS for a dozen eggs?” my culinary class asks in disbelief. “I pay two dollars at the grocery store, how can you pay that much more for eggs?” they pressed.

“Here’s what I want you to do,” my response begins, “I want you to take this little tiny chicken, raise it for 3 months, feed it, house it, clean up after it, gather its eggs, wash them, package them, drive to the market at 5am, sit there and sell them all day, and I’ll pay you $1.99.”

Nobody wants to take that deal because they are used to eggs just APPEARING in the supermarket. They’re willing to pay less and know less about their food. However, there ARE hidden costs in buying commercially produced eggs, and they prevent you from the freshest cooking.

Massive scale egg producers regularly make the news for inhumane treatment of chickens and unsanitary conditions. It's no mystery why diseases then take hold in henneries. Massive numbers of chickens in deplorable living conditions become stressed, then become sick and contaminated, spreading illness up the food chain. And the next step up the food chain is YOU.

There is something you can do right now to improve your own health and the lives of these animals; you can buy your eggs from farmers who raise happy, healthy chickens the natural way because the real facts about eggs say it’s the perfect food.

Buy your eggs from the hand that pulled them from under the chicken. Fresh eggs are a gateway drug, after you taste ONE, you’ll think you’ve never eaten a REAL egg before. Then, inspired by the tremendous difference in something as common as an egg, you’ll be curious about other better-tasting products at the farmers market and you’ll be hooked.

Eggs from hens raised on pasture and allowed to freely forage outdoors produce a healthier product with more vitamins and higher levels of protein. Fresher eggs are obvious if you do what I did during The Great Egg Test.

Fresh eggs make fluffier omelets, stiffer custards, and baked goods with greater leavening resulting in higher, more tender muffins, cookies, brownies and quick breads.

Start with fresh eggs and you’ll be “Jones-ing” for the other items at your farmers market that look better, taste better, make you feel better, and you’ll be helping your community as well.

Starting TODAY, you can cook healthier, better tasting food and STILL save money.

"Discover my simple 5 step process for getting fresh, nutritious and cost-effective meals on the table every night of the week! "

By Chef Todd

3 Truths and 1 Lie About The Farmers Market

The farmers market is not a grocery store. A grocery store is a brick-and-mortar retailer who gathers global products that will sell to the largest number of people. If it doesn’t sell, it loses its shelf space.

The grocery store has one truth, it’s convenient. However, it also brings many lies.
How many times have you heard of products making health claims that are then removed because of a court order? Are the “natural” eggs from anti-biotic fed chickens your definition of natural? The grocery store is more advertising than advocacy.

But, your local farmers market is most often telling the truth. You can ask the guy that picked the tomatoes, chose the eggs, or raised the cow. He’ll tell you more about your food than the mega-mart employee, setting on your way to cook fresh foods.

There are three main truths you should bring to your mind for farmers market shopping success, but also be aware of the one lie that is already in your head.

Truth Number 1: You Need A Flexible Palate To Shop At The Farmers Market

You won’t be able to get everything all the time from local farmers. You may not be able to get some things at all, but that’s okay. The truth is that you should approach your visit with an open mind and an open palate.

With a little awareness, you can recognize which items are the freshest, which are in season, and which will yield the most food enjoyment. This is a dramatic change of thought for many people who buy ingredients for a recipe rather than creating a recipe from the ingredients available.

You have to pay attention to the season to get the most benefits from your local market. If your broccoli has a band reading “Mexico” and it’s October, that’s not the freshest product. But, when you anticipate blueberry season and enjoy them fully for 6 weeks, you don’t eat blueberries for the rest of the year. There’s something else to discover just coming into season. When you shop seasonally, you’ll really know how to save on food. http://www.howtosaveonfood.com

Please don’t confuse “organic” with local. Produce that is labeled organic has followed certain guidelines AND had the resources to file with the USDA. Many of your local farmers follow the exact same rules, without searching for loopholes, but don’t go through the arduous process of securing the label.

Truth Number 2: You Need To Spend Cash

Your local farmers are small business owners. They work very hard to provide wholesome food and should be rewarded for these efforts. Using a credit card at the farmers market gives a mega-bank 3 percent of the farmer’s money. Most market purchases are under 10 dollars anyway. Please don’t be the person who uses plastic to buy 3 apples.

The advantage of using cash to you is that it makes you more aware of your purchases. Farmer’s market ingredients are not waxed, gassed, or preserved like the grocery store so they will spoil more quickly. When spending cash, you’ll be limited to buy only what you will cook within the week. There’s no reason to stock up on farmer’s market foods. Next week’s purchase is still in the ground and will be even fresher in 7 days.

Spending cash also helps you with your food budget because it’s so easy to throw additional items into a shopping cart when you flash plastic through the check out line. With cash, you may have to make decisions between which items to buy. That’s an advantage because only so many items will fit within the weekly meal plan anyway.

Truth Number 3: You Need To Learn How To Cook

I speak with people all the time that want to take advantage of the benefits the farmers market offers, but they don’t know how to cook many of the ingredients there. Without confidence, they search recipes. Recipes call for specific ingredients, and that negates the need for the farmers market, as I said before. It’s a vicious cycle.

You don’t need to be a chef to learn to cook with the freshest ingredients. As a matter of fact, it’s easier to cook fresh food than packaged foods. When you concentrate on the basic methods of cooking, then you’ll realize it doesn’t matter WHAT you’re cooking when you know HOW to cook it correctly.

To take advantage of this great local food, there are three skills you’ll need in the kitchen. First, knife skills are important because your ingredients won’t come already cut up for you. Second, be able to replicate ONE basic cooking method like grilling, sauté, or roasting. If you can consistently sauté something well, it doesn’t matter if it’s chicken, beef, or vegetables. Third, know how to make sauces. A good sauce can improve the flavor, texture and appearance of any cooked item.

The Big Lie: The Farmers Market Is Too Expensive

Please stop saying that the farmers market is too expensive. It’s just not true. I think this myth was started by people who shopped there once, on a dare. Having spent their lives ignoring prices at the grocery store, they go local and for the first time scrutinize prices. “One pepper for a dollar-fifty?” they say, having paid even more by the POUND at the grocery store last week. They haven’t been paying attention.

The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you consider overall value.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you want to help your community.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you care about the earth.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you know the source of your food.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you know what is IN your food
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you eat only local and stop snacking.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you spend money on less important things.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you get the value of shopping with family.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you teach your children about good food.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when they treat the animals well.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when workers are paid a fair wage.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you compare to take out food.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you buy only what you’ll eat.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you care about your health.
The farmers market is NOT more expensive when you shop there SMART.

Now, it’s your turn. Please leave a comment below and finish this sentence:
“The farmers market is NOT more expensive when…..”

By Chef Todd

These 11 Facts Prove Why Shopping
At The Farmers Market Is Better

I love shopping at the farmers market for many reasons. Before you start telling me your objections to avoid the best food in town, let me prove to you why you SHOULD be getting your food directly from the farmers, and then you'll know How To Cook Fresh.

1 – It just tastes better. If you are a fan of food, good food, this is where you’ll find it. I understand that many people have dumbed-down their taste buds due to the convenience and low cost of commercial food production. However, full-flavor food and the enjoyment of it is one of the greatest parts of being alive. Bright colors and brilliant eye-appeal heighten your cooking and eating experience. If you combine that with the REAL flavor of a local strawberry, peach, lettuce, or even chicken, you’ll have greater enjoyment from your food.

2. Live in the Moment (or at least the season) – They won’t have everything all the time at the farmers market, and that’s okay. You don’t get your birthday or Christmas every day either. When it’s Strawberry season, I enjoy Strawberries very much and then they’re gone. Luckily, it’s Blueberry season by the time that happens. There’s a connection you experience with nature when you eat only what’s fresh, local and available.

3. Farmers Are Working Hard For You. These guys work HARD to supply excellent food and I want my money to support them. Most often, they are multi-generational farmers and have a deep sense of pride in what they do. They’re not getting wealthy through farming, but do lead richer lives.

And, if you spend $100 at a farmers' market, $62 goes back into the local economy, and $99 out of $100 stays in the state. If you spend $100 at a grocery store, only $25 stays local. So, where do you want your money to go?

4 – It’s Good For The Earth - Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. This takes a lot of jet fuel and gasoline. Shipping food creates a lot of waste, and it’s often treated, waxed or gassed to help lessen this effect. Your local farmer loves the land that supports their family. Corporate farms are polluting, depleting lands, and using inordinate amounts of resources to make food cheaper.

5 – It’s Better For You – When food is harvested before it’s fully ripe, it has less nutrients than items allowed to ripen on the plant. If you’re to ship food 1500 miles, it must be picked before ripe to reduce spoilage. Much of the mega-mart food is highly processed and grown using pesticides, antibiotics, hormones or gene modification.

6 – The Serendipity of Something New – Grocery stores sell what sells. Farmers sell what grows. I enjoy seeing what is n ew every week at the farmers market, asking the farmer about it and using it in my cooking. My meals are never dull when I keep a wide variety of fresh, seasonal, wholesome foods on my table.

7 – You're An Animal Lover – I can’t even listen to stories about the mistreatment of animals. Now, I’m also a carnivore so this is a bit of a contradiction. I’m not enough of an animal lover to stop eating some of them. I’m higher up the food chain. If chickens, cows, and pigs are raised humanely, in sanitary conditions, and treated well, they have only one bad day.

8 – Eat Your Own Dirt – Not literally the dirt, but the minerals and nutrients native to where YOU live that are characteristics of local food. I believe there is credibility to the idea that food from your earth carries the minerals and anti-bodies necessary to keep you healthy. Knowing where your food comes from, the source of the food, is becoming increasingly important with the potential food safety hazards of global shipping,

9 – Cooking Is Easier and More Fun – When I vacation in Hawaii, I cook dinner almost every night because of the inspiring ingredients there. Many people ask me why a chef wouldn’t want a vacation FROM cooking. Just as a violinist would love to play the finest instrument, the freshest ingredients inspire you to cook. The freshest ingredients are also the easiest to cook and most nutritious. They’re like a Stradivarius violin or Steinway piano, you simply MUST play them.

10 – Make Gathering Your Food A Family Event – The farmers market is where people like you, people who care about food, congregate. Meet your neighbors, talk to farmers, enjoy the outdoors rather than fluorescent lighting and bring your family with you to learn about fresh food. The farmers market makes shopping an exciting treasure hunt and takes more involvement and thought than the grocery store.

11 – Avoid Plastics And Packaging – Think about how much packaging goes into the grocery store. Lettuce is in plastic bags, fruit is bound with mesh, even broccoli is placed on a Styrofoam tray and sealed! Bring your reusable bags to the farmers market and place your fresh ingredients directly into them and you’ll be saving landfills as well.

Farmers Market shopping has many more benefits over traditional mega-mart stores that might not be apparent to me. I’d love to hear what YOU think is the best reason for shopping locally. Please leave your comment below:

Starting TODAY, you can cook healthier, better tasting food and STILL save money.

"Discover my simple 5 step process for getting fresh, nutritious and cost-effective meals on the table every night of the week! "

By Chef Todd

Cook Simply and Easily with Fresh Ingredients Delivered to Your Door

Do you want to cook simply and still ensure that your kitchen is only producing healthy meals? Then you are going to love the idea that I'm going to share with you today. I just received my first produce box! This produce box is filled with healthy, fresh ingredients that practically guarantee that I will be cooking light recipes all week.

Why A Produce Box?
Growing your own fresh vegetables can be fun and rewarding. I think it’s a big pain in the neck. The second best thing is going to your local farmers market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown in your community by your local farmer. However, I’ve discovered the next best thing to THAT! It’s a produce box that is delivered to my front door each week.

My Produce Box is an excellent example of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) that is now becoming very popular, and may now be available in your area.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
CSA is a way for the farmer to cooperate directly with his customers, as we all agree to purchase whatever is freshest and best from his farm this week. Each week’s box will contain different items based on the local conditions, not the national conditions and price futures; you work directly with the farm and farmer.

This is of great benefit to you, the farmer, your community, the earth, farm workers, and your local economy. Certainly there are many other benefits too, but the main reason I enjoy supporting my local farmers is that they supply the best TASTING ingredients. It’s something that many people aren’t aware of as they continually dull their palates with international flavorless food.

Even lettuce has a distinct flavor. People snicker when I say that, but it’s true. When you consider that all agriculture products take on the characteristics of the sun, soil, and water of where they’re grown you can believe that lettuces can be as different as wines.

Cook Simply
Besides having the best ingredients with the most nutritional quality and flavor, I love my weekly produce box because of the serendipity of opening the box. I don’t know what surprises I’ll find, but I’m always up to the challenge of being ready to cook whatever is in the box. I don’t try to over-complicate the basic fruits and vegetables within. I want to retain as much flavor and nutrition as possible, and this means I cook simply and easily using the best ingredients.

It’s NOT More Expensive
The most common misconception about your local farmers market or CSA is that fresh ingredients are more expensive. Yes, they’re more expensive calorie-for-calorie than a microwavable meal with a mile-long ingredient list. But we’re not comparing garbage to apples.

If your local farmer just needs to pick the ingredient and deliver it to the farmers market or to your door in the case of a produce box, it can’t possibly be as expensive as internationally shipped produce. My farmer doesn’t have the cost of spraying his produce with wax. He doesn’t absorb the cost of the airline trip. My local farmer has much more pride in his work than the corporate produce distributor.

Fresh Ingredients Cook Better
It’s a fact. A fresher item is easier to cook than one that is falsely ripe. Tomatoes that are picked at a green color and then gassed to make them red for the long cross-country trip to your market are harder to cook than your local farm-fresh variety that was allowed to ripen on the vine.

If you want to cook simply and easily, have the freshest ingredients with the most nutritional value, and support your local community, explore the options of having fresh produce delivered to your door from your local farmer. You’ll enjoy food more.

See the video where Chef Todd receives his mystery produce box.

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"How To Cook Fresh in 5 Simple Steps"

Discover my professional secrets to choosing, cooking, and storing fresh foods!

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By Chef Todd

Fairway Market in NY- "A Market Like No Other"

The Fairway Market in New York City calls itself "a market like no other". That's quite a bold claim for what I thought was simply an organic supermarket. Boy, was I wrong! Once I went inside, a new world of food was revealed, all in the busiest city in the world, New York.

The most nutritious food are those grown locally, within 50 miles of where you live, and cooked in a simple manner that retains those nutrients. However, finding the freshest ingredients, or your local farmers market can mean a greater effort on your part. You may have to drive past a few mega-grocery stores to arrive at the freshest ingredients. The effect on your health and nutrition will be worth the trip!

Even in New York City, a "concrete jungle", you can find fresh, local ingredients. The Fairway Market in New York has a beautiful outdoor display of fruits and vegetables, all clearly marked as to country of origin, along with description of the items. This can be very helpful in choosing your own ingredients for the healthiest cooking.

Once we venture inside the market, it becomes obvious why they call themselves "a market like no other". Along with the amazing variety of every type of fruit and vegetable, dry cured fish and meats, a full bakery, sushi, and authentic Cheese Mongers, there is a sense of pride in the food they present and sell. Everything is displayed with such respect for the food, just like I experienced in Paris. It was very easy to eat healthy food in Paris, it was everywhere!

When you have access to the freshest local ingredients and you cook them with a simple method, you create easy healthy recipes that fit your desires. Since I think learning to cook is the easy part, then actually finding the locally grown ingredients is the difficult part. I demonstrated how easy it is to cook easy healthy recipes in a previous blog post.

The combination of basic cooking methods and the most flavorful ingredients, like those found at the Fairway Market in New York, will always yield the best meals that you create yourself.

By Chef Todd

The Farmer’s Secret To Growing Tomatoes in Winter

The trees are bare, the ground is frozen, and if you want the best and freshest ingredients, where are do you go? Well, there is someone growing tomatoes in the winter! If you understand the science of cooking and you want the freshest ingredients even when they're out of season, then you're in the right place to learn how to pick the freshest foods and cook them correctly. These are the same topics I teach in my FREE webinar, How To Cook Fresh In 5 Simple Steps.

In my search for the best tomatoes you can possibly grow in the winter, I found the answer at Sunburst Tomatoes in Momeyer, North Carolina. These tomatoes are grown indoors, even in the worst of weather. Tim Bass, owner of Sunburst tomatoes explains how he grows big, beautiful, deep red tomatoes indoors without pesticides.

The plants are grown in coconut fiber bags with a drip irrigation system that is controlled by a computer. The heat and air circulation are also controlled by a system that allows the plants to grow upward on a string. The tomatoes are always picked from the bottom, leaves removed, and the string lowered to allow for more growth.

Insects are controlled with predator bugs, “good bugs to eat the bad bugs” says Tim Bass. This is a natural way to avoid pesticides. Tim uses other natural methods to pollinate his tomato plants, purchasing a bee hive every six weeks or so. The bees do what comes naturally to them, and helps out their human farmer friends.

If you will take the time to look, you will realize that the best and freshest produce comes from within 100 miles of where you live. As you grow in your understanding of the science of cooking, you will seek out fresher ingredients. The best ingredients haven’t been sprayed with wax, gassed, or bounced around in transit and in the end, all your kitchen creations will taste better. Find a local farmer that grows tomatoes or other fresh produce and you’ll improve the nutritional quality of the food you eat and help your local farmer at the same time.

Or, come to a farmer market in Hawaii with me.

Starting TODAY, you can cook healthier, better tasting food and STILL save money.

"Discover my simple 5 step process for getting fresh, nutritious and cost-effective meals on the table every night of the week! "

By Chef Todd

Koloa Sunshine Farmers Market in Hawaii

The best place to get fresh fruit and fresh produce is your local farmers market. I’m looking for fresh fruit and fresh vegetables from the Koloa Sunshine Farmers Market in Hawaii.

Notice that I didn’t bring any recipes with me. It would be impossible to find all the ingredients that are called for in any written recipe at a local farmers market. However, if you are armed with the knowledge of basic cooking methods, you can create an original recipe from what you find there. You’ll know that the meal you create from the freshest ingredients, fresh fruit and fresh produce, along with your creativity and study of online cooking lessons, will be the better than someone else’s opinion of what you should cook. That's when you know How To Cook Fresh.

There’s a mindset involved in farmers market produce shopping. Years ago, I’d take my lengthy list of requirements to have on hand at all times to the grocery store. I had an insecurity that, when cooking by written recipe, it might call for something I don’t have in stock. Then, I might have to go back to the grocery store. At the farmers market, you’re committing to cooking whatever is freshest and readily available.

Packing your pantry with canned goods in case they’re demanded by your recipes the best way to waste time and money in your food shopping. Even if the farmers market produce is more expensive than grocery store items, it should be. It’s a better product that has been produced and distributed in a more wholesome fashion. You’ll get more enjoyment, more flavor, and more nutrition from fresh local produce that comes from your local farmers market.

The best ingredients you can access and afford, combined with basic cooking methods will help you create recipes from what is seasonal and available, and will keep bringing you back to your local farmers market for fresh produce.

What would YOU make with Shrimp, Limes, Star-Fruit, Pineapple and Lettuce?
Please tell me your inspiration in the comments below:

Starting TODAY, you can cook healthier, better tasting food and STILL save money.

"Discover my simple 5 step process for getting fresh, nutritious and cost-effective meals on the table every night of the week! "

Previously from Hawaii:
Cook Shrimp in Hawaii
Fish Market on Hawaii
Goat Farm on Hawaii
How to Open a Coconut in Maui