Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Iovine's Goes Local at Reading Terminal Market

Iovine's uses old-fashioned carts to feature local produce
Local produce is hardly a new thing for Iovine Brothers Produce at the Reading Terminal Market. But earlier this spring they positioned two old-fashioned carts near the front of their space to emphasize the local connections.

These days the carts are loaded with lettuces, radishes, cooking greens, summer squashes, mushrooms, scallions and lots more from nearby farms, primarily southern New Jersey, but Bucks County, too.

Jimmy and Vinnie Iovine have long-standing relationships with a number of local farms, including Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, especially for corn.

But even more produce comes from the larger, commercial South Jersey operations, like Vineland's Flaim Farm in Cumberland County. While Flaim is a larger operation than the typical boutique farmer you'll find at the Headhouse Square or Rittenhouse Square farmers' markets, the produce is just as fresh and nutritious, and usually considerably less expensive. Iovine takes deliveries direct from the farms, avoiding the middle-man stop at the wholesale produce market, which speeds the product from farm to shopping cart. And although Flaim and other local farms supplying Iovine are big in comparison with a Tom Culton or Earl Livengood, they're still small potatoes when put up against the agribusinesses in California and Mexico supplying your local Acme.

Iovine's regularly sends out emails (see the latest here) showcasing their specials, including locally grown items. This week they're featuring blueberries. Although the blues brought up from the Carolinas are less expehsive ($1.99 a pint), they've got the first of the South Jersey crop at $3.99. Expect the price to decline in coming weeks as the local product comes into full harvest.

Iovine's is hardly the only option for local produce at the Reading Terminal Market:
  • O.K. Lee, the other large full-range greengrocer at the market, also brings in local produce, including from Lancaster County.
  • Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce, in the market's Pennsylvania Dutch area, features fruits and vegetables from Amish country Wednesdays through Saturday.
  • L. Halteman Family, primarily a deli and butcher, offers a limited selection of seasonal produce from their Pennsylvania Dutch country neighbors, Monday through Saturday.
  • Bowes Family Farm from Milton, Pennsylvania, offering organic produce, can usually be found Thursday through Saturday in the Piano Court (near Metropolitan Bakery). His prices, though, rival those at the high-end farmers' markets.
  • Fair Food Farmstand has been pioneering selling local produce at the market for about a dozen years, often at prices that rival Iovine's. Much of their produce comes from the same producers you'll find at local farmers' markets.

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