MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

August 6, 2013

It’s summer, it’s watermelon season

Nothing quite signifies the pinnacle of summertime eating like a cool, sweet wedge of fresh-cut watermelon on a warm evening after a long day.

Following a long wait, during this cooler than average summer, fresh local watermelons are finally available in plentiful quantities at the Muskogee Farmers’ Market and other local produce outlets like Arnold’s Fruit Stand.

Not only is watermelon a delicious snack, or a refreshing addition in salad or salsa like the one below, it is also an especially nutritious item to have in the kitchen, or on the porch.

Besides containing a fair amount of Vitamins A and C, watermelons are also one of the richest sources of lycopene, an antioxidant found in red and orange produce, which may help fight cancer, heart disease and other chronic conditions.

A wide variety of other fresh locally-grown produce also will be available at the farmers market such as cucumbers, green, red and pink tomatoes, okra, cantaloupe, peaches, green and colored bell peppers, cayenne and other hot peppers, yellow squash and zucchini, cabbage, eggplant, red, yellow and white onions, new potatoes, green beans, Brussels sprouts, basil, rosemary, mint and other fresh-cut herbs, radishes, beets, turnips, garlic, carrots, asian spinach, collards, swiss chard, kale, micro greens and more.

Farmers will also have potted herbs, bedding plants, fresh cut-flower bouquets and a few vegetable transplants.

Other food items expected at the market include various ready to eat lunch and breakfast items such as pulled-pork sandwiches, chicken-ranch wraps, breakfast burritos, tamales, hot dogs, polish sausages and chicken dogs with grilled veggies, lemonade and other tasty items.

Vendors will also have hand-made candles, soaps, natural body care products, pet treats, jewelry, aprons, handbags and more. Not all produce or other products listed are available on Wednesdays.

On most Wednesdays, from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., OSU Nutrition Educator Michelle Carter-Brown will be at the market fixing simple, affordable and healthy meal and snack ideas with free samples and recipes, featuring items fresh from the market.

Demonstrations at today’s market will feature fresh watermelon.

SNAP benefits (food stamps) are accepted at the farmers’ market. Customers wishing to purchase eligible foods with their Oklahoma Access card can visit the farmers’ market tent, swipe their card in exchange for tokens, and shop with vendors offering eligible items, which also include food-bearing plants.

And on most Saturdays, B.J. Charbonneau of the Muskogee Swim and Fitness Center will teach free Tai Chi classes near the band-shell and lawn area next to the market at about 10 a.m., weather permitting.

Also on most Saturdays, Muskogee County Master Gardeners from OSU Extension will be on hand with handy demonstrations and ready to tackle yard and garden questions from anyone needing their help.

The Muskogee Farmers Market is open every Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, under the covered parking pavilions downtown in front of the Civic Center.

For more inforomation, reach Doug Walton at (918) 360-2012, or email him at doug.ewalton@gmail.com.

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