How I Use AI to Make the Most of My Farmers Market Produce

By Karisma Wilson,

May 28, 2024

Growing up with a professional chef as a mom gave me quite a complex about fresh, delicious produce and how to use it. So, with that background, I might be the last person you would expect to use AI to enhance my visit to the farmers market. But I did, and what I learned was exciting.

My Culinary Path

My mom instilled in me early on that buying local, in-season fruits and veggies is what makes a meal. I used to watch in awe as she came up with elaborate recipes off the cuff, knowing exactly what state our fridge was in at all times, how to best utilize the artichoke heads that have started to wither, and somehow creating a Michelin-level delicacy from a handful of produce. 

I used to think I would never reach that encyclopedic culinary knowledge, but over the years I slowly started to understand the chemistry behind cooking, what actually made my favorite dishes so delicious, how to pick the best produce, and when to get it fresh. 

As my own recipe box started to fill, I found myself making the same dishes over and over. I would find a flavor or ingredient that I liked and I would keep that in rotation until I got sick of it. 

To fight this, I try to grab a new fruit or vegetable each time I go to the market, to test my developing skills. I would do some research on the novel, spiky romanesco broccoli, but even if I found a recipe that sounded good, I would continue cooking everything in the same way (with lots of lemon, garlic, and butter). 

I recently heard about Meg Faibisch Kühn using the AI in ChatGPT to generate meals with unique ingredient lists, and it unlocked a new world of recipes.

How I Used AI to Create Recipes Sourced from the Farmers Market

We live in an age where everything is optimized and the world’s knowledge is at our fingertips. The kitchen is no exception. 

AI offers an amazing opportunity to take your skill building to the next level, to elevate your favorite meals, or just to break through the decision fatigue. Since you can prompt AI services like ChatGPT to suggest recipes using seasonal goods, it makes a great assistant in figuring out how to turn all those items you picked up at the farmers market into a great meal.

Here’s an example of how I recently used AI for the ingredients I had from a recent visit to my local farmers market: 

You can also utilize ChatGPT to come up with an ingredient list before grocery shopping, or to create a new favorite recipe with one of the delicious offerings of our local, MALT producers.

Switching Up a Classic

If you aren’t much of an adventurous eater or if your fridge is looking a little sparse, you can also use AI to come up with variations and subtle twists on tried and true classics. Try asking ChatGPT to generate a recipe with a special product you want to feature, or recreate a dish you know you love with only the ingredients available to you. 

As Meg told Business Insider, “Using ChatGPT is like having an in-house recipe developer”. The best part is there is no wrong way to use AI. It’s an incredible resource once you learn how to ask the right questions, and that’s only possible if you start. You can ask about the best way to prepare produce, and it can even offer suggestions for complementary pairings. 

Below I asked ChatGPT to put a new twist on an old classic:

Emptying the Veggie Drawer

With farmers market season on the horizon, it’s finally time to get out and get the best produce you’ll find all year. If you’re anything like me, you tend to go “kid in a candy store” surrounded by all those beautiful veggies. I often find the conviction that overtakes me in the market, convincing me I will use a family of five’s worth of fruit in a week, has long abandoned me once the berries have been sitting in the fridge and I’ve battled my way home through weekday traffic. 

If you’re looking to optimize the all too short lives of your produce, use as many ingredients as possible, or further your inspiration, AI can help here too. 

Beyond AI: The Importance of Vibrant Local Food Systems

The freedom of knowing I can use ChatGPT to come up with a delicious recipe for just about anything has revolutionized my grocery shopping experience. AI can help us use the fresh food we buy at the farmers market, find new recipes, and help prevent food waste.

But I’m not advocating we all give up on utilizing our own creativity. While AI is a fun tool to help explore new recipes, it’s also important to get back to the basics: buying fresh food from your local farmers and ranchers, sharing meals with family and friends, and supporting the work that creates vibrant local food systems. Healthy meals start with the land that we protect and sustain.

Since its founding in 1980, the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) has been working with local landowners to acquire voluntary agricultural conservation easements. These easements protect the land’s conservation values while also requiring that it remains in agricultural production. To date, MALT has secured 93 easements totaling more than 55,700 acres of farm and ranchland.

This working landscape also plays a pivotal role in sustain our precious biodiversity. Through this land’s careful stewardship, we can ensure the highest number of habitats are sustained and help cultivate the conditions needed for flora and fauna to thrive. Discover more here.

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