After a long bitter winter, coming out of hibernation is one of the first things to do when temperatures gradually rise in Minnesota. Preparing to shop for produce can be stressful. Knowing, planning and preparing for summer produce takes ample research to buy the fresh products. When you are buying locally grown food, you’re not just investing for a better balanced nutrition for yourself, but you are supporting the local community of farmers. See what local farmer Jerry Untiedt has to say about this summer’s produce.
Untiedt’s Vegetable Farm
4750 25th St. S.W.
Waverly, MN 55390
Jerry, along with his wife Sue, founded Untiedt’s Vegetable Farm back in 1971. Located in Waverly, Minn., about 45 minutes from Minneapolis, the business enterprise has been self-sustaining for more than four decades. The family farm has made it a mission to use sustainable and natural practices to produce high-quality plants and vegetables. The staff and family members possess a high work ethic. This has allowed the business to grow over time and develop a unique relationship with the surrounding communities.
It is always great to search out a real grower, not someone who specializes in buying or reselling products from warehouses or other outlets. The benefits of seeking out a real grower, for starters, promotes energy conservation — you pay higher cost for bringing food that travels from 1,500 miles away by air, plane or train. This creates a dependence on petroleum, and prices for oil rise annually.
Before you purchase any farm product, learn to ask the right questions. Is this really locally grown? When was this harvested? If spraying pesticides or particles from pesticides is an issue to you, ask what was sprayed on this product, not was this product sprayed. Remember, of course, that all organic and conventional growers probably have been spraying.
Don’t be afraid to make observations (touch, smell, compare) about the stems, leaves, silks, fruits and vegetables. If the grower has no hesitation, taste the product. By asking questions, you are ensuring that your purchase will be satisfactory. At the same time, when you ask questions, it will give you a glimpse at the type of service the grower or farmer provides to you along with other clients.
Don’t be afraid of the price. Normally, prices are a bit higher earlier in the growing season when there is less locally grown produce on the market. A good grower will remember you. As the supply increases with season maturity, it is only natural to lower the price. Remember that relationships mean so much and if the season’s hot, dry and turbulent, you will probably get those scarce items when someone who only shops by price will not.
Ask the grower what fresh or locally grown produce is at the peak of freshness and flavor. We all need to understand that to every fruit and vegetable, there is a specific season. In other words, realize that when a produce item is truly in the peak of its season, it presents an opportunity for the shopper to maximize quality and price efficiency.
Remember that Minnesota’s ever-changing climate (droughts, hail storms, episodic rains, etc.) will play a factor in the pricing. Should our growing area benefit from a lack of destruction, it is only natural to assume that we will be blessed with a bountiful harvest of high-quality, high-flavor and delicious fresh produce from our fields. There is no better place to explore these fields of magnificent, locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables than at the Minneapolis Farmers Market.
Related: Best of Minnesota: Farmers Market
Anthony Carranza is a freelance writer covering all things Minnesota related to tech, social media, news, and local happenings around the Twin Cities. His work can be found at Examiner.com.