Melissa O’Shea (aka Market Melissa) and I have developed an off-shoot of Foodtrainers called Market Foodtraining. Melissa guides small groups of participants through various NYC markets offering her expertise on organics, ingredients and more. I had a few questions for Melissa and she will offer weekly tips, so check back with us!
Lauren: You’ve been touring around groups for your market foodtraining tours, what do people have the most questions about?
Melissa: What foods to buy organic is always a question I get and also how to work organics into their budget. On the tours, I give participants the organic do’s and don’ts. For example, DO buy the in-store organic brand, this can shave 20% off your grocery bill.
Lauren What’s exciting that’s in season now?
Melissa: I feel like in summer we all go crazy for the delicious variety of fruits in season, but in the fall some of my favorite veggies are in season. I am making soups and chili with butternut squash, pumpkin and kale and love roasted sweet potato fries. These ingredients make the chilly weather not seem so bad.
Lauren: You’re always tweeting (@marketmelissa) about ingredients and food-shopping, any tidbit you’d like to share?
Melissa: Oh there are so many to share! A recent one I found was that the average carrot travels 1,800 miles to your dinner table. We grow carrots in NY! It seems silly when we can get them from a farm that is less than 100 miles away.
Lauren: I love when you say “these jarred tomato sauces are great, I can’t use jarred ones, I have an Italian husband.” For those of us who don’t, what is your advice for making things from scratch?
Melissa: Oh I still remember the look on my husband’s face the first night I made pasta with jarred tomato sauce. What does an Irish girl know!? While I admit I was intimidated at first, it isn’t as hard as it seems. My husband’s grandmother says “if you have good ingredients, you can’t go wrong.” And she’s right, I now make all own soups and salad dressings…I’ve come a long way.
Lauren: Any favorite new product/discovery?
Melissa: I’m usually not a huge fan of cottage cheese, but I have to say Rachel’s (https://rachelsdairy.com) now makes ones that come in flavors like cucumber dill and pear mangosteen…yum!
Lauren: What’s new in market foodtraining?
Melissa: In September and October we were doing a lot of ‘back to school’ tours with parents on what’s to pack in school lunches and easy weeknight dinners. As we transition to winter, we are going to focus on flu-fighting foods, as well as comfort foods made healthy and winter produce. I am always looking to keep the tours fresh and exciting. Blog readers, come check them out!