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Farmers' Market Growers to Team With Chefs to Highlight Fresh Produce

 Farmers' Market Growers to Team With Chefs to Highlight Fresh Produce

James Monteleone | The Daily Times, Farmington, N.M.

AZTEC- Hoping to showcase the quality of locally grown fruit and vegetables, the Aztec Farmers’ Market each week will pair a grower with a chef who can give shoppers a taste of what’s available at the local market.

The rotating pairing of a local grower and an area chef offering free samples is taking place each Wednesday afternoon at the Aztec Farmers’ Market through the end of September.

The goal is to demonstrate that fruits and vegetables grown locally offer freshness and flavor unparalleled by produce available through grocery stores, which often is chemically treated and shipped hundreds of miles to reach northwest New Mexico.

“I think (shoppers) will find that there is a taste difference because things are really fresh. A lot of times, growers pick it that day or the day before it comes to market,” said Pauline Pao, a local grower who organized the chef pairings. “The idea was to get people to put a face on their food, to see who’s growing their food.”

Chef Dean Barns, of the Farmington restaurant Something Special, said the locally grown foods offer improved nutritional value that simply is unavailable in fruits and vegetables mass-produced for worldwide delivery.

“It hasn’t been on a truck, it hasn’t been sprayed, it hasn’t been ripened in a ripening house,” Barns said of the locally grown produce. “The flavor, it’s an experience.”

An added benefit of the chef-grower samplings is that farmers’ market shoppers have an opportunity to taste foods they may never otherwise try.