Farmers Markets: An Exploration in Local Food

July 01, 2010, 09:00 am  Posted by Lark

I went to my first farmers market just a couple years ago. It’s pretty hard to believe it took so long, living in the foodtopia that I do. During that first visit I was not only amazed at the color, textures, and varieties of the offerings but the sense of community, place and security of being able to buy my food directly from the farmers that produced it. I’ve found it’s an easy way to financially support small farms, seek out sustainable crops grown much closer to home, and learn how available foods change throughout the growing season. My husband and I now go to our downtown market almost every single weekend, hopping on our scooter, basket tucked at our side.

My usual rounds? The homemade pasta (let me sing the praises of preserved lemon and goat cheese ravioli), the make-a-beeline-for-them-before-they’re-gone savory croissants (local greens and Gorgonzola, anyone?), and the so much better than store-bought local tempeh (diced and fried up in some grapeseed oil and dusted with sea salt and cracked black pepper). This past weekend we finally made it over to the pleasantly shaded market on the north side of town and snatched up these riches: gorgeous oyster mushrooms (sauteed with butter and garlic, tossed with spaghetti and spinach, and topped  with freshly grated cheese), long eggplant and petite spring onions (added to a spicy red curry with Thai basil from my garden), perfectly sized cucumbers (crafted into a batch of classic bread and butter pickles), and juicy raspberries and blueberries (cooked down into jam with fresh lemon verbena). It’s no wonder we can’t resist!

And so I challenge you, dear reader and food lover, seek out your own community’s farmers market. Bring a friend, your partner, your kids, and make an adventure of it. Try something new. Ask the farmers what they suggest you do with those perky little pattypan squash or those crazy looking garlic scapes. See if you can add a little surprise to your own culinary terrain. I think you will be greatly rewarded by the results. For those of you who may already be market regulars, what are your favorite finds?

Check out Local Harvest for a state by state listing of markets and read this beautiful Design* Sponge post by Ashley English, author of our Homemade Living series.


8 Responses

    Lhiggins1 says:

    As a new vegetarian, I find the exploration of the beauty, texture and flavor of farmer's market an adventure worthy of a lark book .

    Carlin says:

    My visit to the local farmers market yesterday led to me discover fresh fish- very exciting! Living in Massachusetts, fresh seafood is available, but this was better than any restaurant.

    Val says:

    I absolutely love spending Saturday mornings at the farmers market. It is a tactile and visual delight. On numerous occasions I have taken breathtaking pictures of the amazingly beautiful fruits and vegetables while munching on a slice of watermelon with juices dribbling down on my chin. Finding homemade goat cheese is the ultimate find for me!

    CB-SW says:

    Love this post. I just returned from a week at vacation rental cabin on Edisto Island near Charleston. We did our research ahead and found two farms that supply Charleston restaurants with local produce, one of which specializes in unusual melons. We ate the simplest, most amazing food–low country feast every evening.

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