This week, we pay tribute to the many farmers, fishers and ranchers at your Ballard Farmers Market who produce animal products. And we start with a farm that epitomizes why we all love to get our meat and poultry here: Stokesberry Sustainable Farm. See, they put it right in their name: sustainable. And it is important to note that sustainable is about more than just the environment. It is about how the animals are treated, what impact their meat will have on your health, how the farm and its animals impact the land they are on and the communities they are in, whether the business, and your support of it, are contributing positively to the local economy, and even the relationship one has with the farm… in this case, a direct one. It matters that the people who grow our food have real, actual faces. They are real, actual people. We come to know them over weeks and months and years, and we trust them like we would our doctor, lawyer or mechanic. All of this is part of sustainable. And part of your Ballard Farmers Market. Just some food for thought as you pick up a dozen eggs, a duck and some chicken fat today from Stokesberry.
Olsen Farms travels farther than any other farm in the state to sell at farmers markets. They hail from the tiny town of Aladdin, so far up in the northeast corner of the state, it is almost in Alberta. Olsen may be best known for the 20+ varieties of potatoes they grow, but they also produce beef, pork and lamb. They’ll have these gorgeous holiday hams soon, and fall tends to be a good time to get sheep skins from them, too. And, of course, they make a nice selection of sausages, as well.
Fishing Vessel St. Jude, based at Ballard’s own Fishermen’s Terminal, catches adolescent albacore tuna off the coast of Washington as it swims south from the North Pacific, where it spends its first year of life. Because it is still young, and because those cold northern waters are a little cleaner, they are very low in heavy metals. And that cold water also means they are higher in fat content, and thus rich in beneficial omega fatty acids. And the fattiest part of the fish is its belly. That’s what this Tarantella comes from. Canned tuna doesn’t get much more amazing than this!
Mmm. Fresh sausages. Fresh from George and the gang out at Vashon Island’s Sea Breeze Farm. Sea Breeze raises cattle, pigs, lamb, veal calves, chickens, ducks, the odd goat, and other tasty animals. They sell their meat from their refrigerated cases at your Ballard Farmers Market, and lovely charcuterie made at their Vashon butcher shop, as well as the aforementioned sausages, bacon, ham, and even raw milk products, cheese and wine.
Lard is making a comeback, especially when it comes to fresh lard straight from the farm from happy, healthy, pastured pigs. This ain’t 1970s lard. And with the holidays will come baking season, and for the fluffiest biscuits and the flakiest pie crust, you will need lard. Well, Samish Bay Farm, perhaps best known for its cheese, also raises pigs and cattle. That means they offer pork, beef, yogurt, and yes, lard. Now, go make the best apple pie ever!
For a real fall treat, try out some pickled keta salmon from Loki Fish. Loki is also based out of Fishermen’s Terminal, and the Knutsen’s fish for all five Pacific salmon species in Alaska by summer, and in the fall, they fish for keta and pink in Puget Sound. In fact, they have fresh Puget Sound keta salmon available right now! And they have the other species available flash frozen, smoked, canned, loxed, in burgers and sausages, and more! Oh, but the pickled keta. Yummers. Bring this to a holiday party, and you will be the hero of the day.
There is just something special about good butter, am I right? And this time of year, so many things just scream out for butter — from spuds to toast to hearty breads. Lucky for us, we’ve got really good butter — indeed, farmstead butter — right here at your Ballard Farmers Market from Golden Glen Creamery. They have it plain (salted and unsalted), as well as in a variety of fun flavors, from savory to sweet. Of course, they’ve also got plenty of great cheese still, too.
Sometimes, you just need a good steak. So how’s about one of these beauties from Skagit River Ranch? They’re grass-finished and raised on lush, natural pastures, and they never see grain in their diets nor the inside of a truck. Skagit River Ranch also raises pigs and chickens and turkeys and more… all on their happy ranch along the Skagit River in Sedro-Woolley. It is worth the trip up there to see it, if you can. In the meantime, enjoy the delicious products of their hard and passionate work right here at your Ballard Farmers Market! (And don’t forget to order your holiday turkeys and hams now!)
The season may be over for fresh Washington coastal, troll-caught king salmon from Wilson Fish, but they still have plenty of it smoked and frozen. And if you haven’t tried their smoked king salmon, you do yourself a disservice. It is so rich and delicious, and frankly, unsurpassed. Imagine your holiday party with a side of smoked king like this on a platter in the middle of the table. Your guests will think you a god. Oh, and Wilson will likely have other local fresh fish, like rockfish, ling cod, true cod and others on and off through the winter!
Mt. Townsend Creamery, from Port Townsend, makes about a dozen different kinds of amazing cheeses. Just ask the American Cheese Society, with whom several of Mt. Townsend’s cheeses placed first, second or third in America in recent years. You can try them for yourself, right here, at your Ballard Farmers Market, because they will let you sample most of their cheeses. And you’re going to need lots of cheese over the next few months, right? Just don’t get here too late in the day, as many varieties will sell out before 3 p.m.
Now is a great time of year for fresh oysters, be they raw on the half shell (above), jarred for frying or making oyster stew, smoked or pickled. And Hama Hama Oyster Company has you covered for all your oyster needs. Plus, they’ve got Manila clams, Dungeness crab, crab cakes and more!
Let’s finish our stroll through all things animalicious this week with one of the most delectable chickens you will ever taste. Heck, my family eats these instead of turkey for Thanksgiving! Seriously. If you are still buying factory farmed chickens at the Big Box stores because they’re cheap, and you didn’t know that “free range” just means they get a little more room to move around inside a cage in a building for their entire lives, then you owe it to yourself to spend a little extra money for a real chicken from Growing Things Farm. Trust me. There really is a huge difference, and once you try one, you will never buy a Big Box store chicken again!
Finally, another reminder to please bring your own bags every Sunday, as Seattle’s single-use plastic bag ban is now in effect. Also, please take note of our new green composting and blue recycling waste receptacles throughout your Ballard Farmers Market, and please make an effort to use them correctly. Each container has what’s okay to put in it pictured right on the lid. Please do not put the wrong materials in, because that drives up the cost of recycling and composting, and it can result in the entire container being sent instead to a landfill. Your understanding and cooperation are appreciated.
There is plenty more local deliciousness waiting for you today at your Ballard Farmers Market. Just check What’s Fresh Now! for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now.
Tags: Ballard, Ballard Farmers Market, beef, butter, cheese, chicken, duck, eggs, farmers market, fish, food, ham, lard, oysters, pickled salmon, pork, salmon, sausage, seafood, Seattle, smoked salmon, Sunday, tuna