By Kristin Eggen

Do you like to eat? Take a moment to think of your favorite recipe. What does it smell like? On what occasion do you prepare it? Is it a special occasion, an easy weekday meal or a restaurant experience? The adventure of flavor is one that can be slow and leisurely like a double crust rhubarb pie, or fast and spontaneous (I’m looking at you, weeknight quesadilla). 
If you’re like me your mouth is watering by merely thinking of that special dish. It nourishes a very specific part of your soul that only your favorite food can reach- a nexus of flavor, connection, wellbeing and relationship. This is what food can do for us. This is why we cook. 
Field to Fork is your new monthly guide to flavor-packed ingredients, recipes, and stories that connect you to the place you live through the lens of food. Each month you’ll hear from the local food community—farmers, food workers, chefs, local foodies—about their work here in our community, the foods that they know best and the people who raise the ingredients that nurture us.
As the Decorah Farmers Market manager, spring is especially exciting because it means that the market is preparing to open (May 4)! Right now, farmers and vendors are busy planting, tending, baking and making. Stalls of sweet and tender spring greens will soon adorn the lower Oneota Co-op parking lot (and all area farmers markets) punctuated by bright orange baby carrots, velvet purple beets and scarlet radishes. The flowers won’t be far behind. Like a slow motion pinata - the goodness just keep coming!
Here in Iowa the snow flies well into April, but there is still a lot of amazing local food available this time of year. Here are three ways to embrace early spring foods:
Garnish. Microgreens, green onions and edible flowers are enough to turn any cut of meat, salad or yes, casserole - into a work of art. Not to mention pack an extra nutritional punch. Try Canoe Creek Produce’s edible flower mix on any salad or pasta (available through the Iowa Food Hub). 
Sweeten. Maple syrup season just wrapped up, which means this liquid gold is ready to be used in your salad dressings (recipe below), marinades, baking, and of course on your next stack of cakes. 
Expand the definition of “salad”. Chopped vegetable + dressing = salad. Use this formula to experiment with your salads and explore past the basic romaine and ranch. Try a new kind of green or microgreen, or ditch the greens completely and combine other vegetables and fruits. Here’s an easy, refrigerator-friendly beet salad:

Bernard’s Beet Salad

Serves 4
1 pound fresh spring beets, trimmed and washed
3 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp natural maple syrup

Very thinly sliced beets into a bowl. Use a mandolin if you have one.
In a separate bowl, whisk one part lime juice to one part maple syrup until combined. Taste test and adjust to your liking. 
Lightly coat the beets with the dressing. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to several days. The longer the beets marinate, the more they will soak up the flavors. 
Garnish with a shake of sesame seeds, slivered almonds, goat cheese, feta or edible flowers. Enjoy!