By Doug Walton
Fresh at the Market
If you haven’t recently had a chance to see the wide variety of fresh locally-grown produce available at the Muskogee Farmers Market, it’s not too late.
Even though all our students are now back to school and the summer is practically over for many, the Farmers’ Market is still running strong and remains open every Wednesday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon.
One thing about visiting the market on a regular basis, is the suspense and discovery of what new items will appear at the market, as the season progresses.
Some of the crops available at the market catch people by surprise, like the red, green or purple table grapes grown near Haskell.
Of course regular shoppers over the years have learned to expect the arrival of those sweet and juicy delights by sometime in late July or early August.
As it turns out, grapes are considered one of the most nutritious fruits in the world. While not especially high in any particular vitamins, grapes are packed with an arsenal of phytonutrients, which serve as antioxidants and provide other anti-inflammatory, cardiovascular and blood sugar benefits.
Besides the fresh table grapes, a wide variety of other locally-grown produce is available at the farmers market, including watermelon, 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.
Growers will also have various cuts of frozen grass-fed Dexter beef, free-range eggs, potted herbs and aloe vera, fresh cut-flower bouquets and a few water plants.
Other food items expected at the market include ready-to-eat lunch and breakfast items such as 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 grapes.
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 Wednesdays and 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. until noon, rain or shine, under the covered parking pavilions downtown in front of the Civic Center.
For more information, reach Doug Walton, at (918) 360-2012 or email him at email@example.com.
3-4 pounds red, green and/or black grapes, seedless (8 cups)
1 cup lowfat or nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 cup fat free cream cheese, room temp
1/3 cup Splenda Brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup granola (or 1 package Granola Bars, 2 bars), crushed
1. Blend together yogurt, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and spices until smooth. Chill until step 3.
2. Remove grapes from stems, wash, and dry thoroughly.
3. Add grapes to mixture and mix until grapes are evenly coated. Chill until about 10 minutes before serving; gently mix before serving.
4. Crush granola in small bag until granola is in small pieces, but not pulverized. If softer granola is wanted, mix in with grapes about an hour before serving. Otherwise, top grape salad with granola or mix it in (as desired) just before serving.
Note: If salad is made more than 1 day beforehand, some liquid may separate from the sauce. This may be poured off or mixed back in, according to how thick you want the sauce. It does not affect freshness or flavor, just the thickness of the sauce.