To market, to market….

One of my favorite things to do on Saturday mornings in the summer is grab a cup of coffee and “hit the market”. And by this I mean the Farmers Market.

I grew up a market kid. For pretty much as far back as I can remember, Saturday mornings meant heading to the Farmers Market with my mom.  As a kid I didn’t get it.  It all seemed the same: rows and rows of tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, cukes, you name it.  My mom would check each of them out and move on, keeping tabs on the vendors who had produce she was interested in.  At the time I couldn’t figure out what on earth the difference was.  WHY did we have to go down EVERY row?  They all have the same stuff, or so I thought.  I swore she just brought me along to haul the bags for her and when you’re 6 or 7, carrying bags of carrots, beets, radishes, kohlrabi, etc. can get pretty heavy!  Not to mention it can be kind of scary when you lose your mom because she stopped to check out the 10th tomato vendor (because the others “didn’t look good” even though they all looked just fine to 7-year-old eyes) and you got distracted by the brilliantly colored flowers across the aisle and turned to find people are swarming everywhere.  Despite all these hurdles I had to overcome (wink, wink) I came to love the market.  I started to learn the difference between the fresh and not-so-fresh, the ripe and the “not quite” and why my said some things “didn’t look good”.  Then there were the brats hot of the grill.  Like Foot Longs at the State Fair, no matter what time we got to the market, a brat was our reward at the end.  Many brats were eaten before 7:30am!  Mom liked to go early, and she still does.  Get there early, get the freshest produce, get a hot brat and head out before it gets too crazy.

I grew up going to the Minneapolis Farmers Market, you know, the one that has the red roofs you can see from the freeway, but can’t figure out how the heck to get there?  Yeah, that one.  That market has changed a lot over the years, yet the core has remained the same.  Nice people, nice produce, nice vendors. Nice and busy, yet laid back.

Although I don’t get there often, only because it’s “on the other side of the river”, I’ve also like the St. Paul Farmers Market too.  For lack of a better way to describe it, this one feels a little more trendy to me.  The one thing I really like about this market is that 100% of the produce is locally grown.  I’ve heard that this year they’ve also added free horse-drawn wagon rides from the parking lot to the market.  My son will love this!

When I don’t have a lot of time or just want a more low-keyed market experience, I head to the Richfield Farmers Market. This market has yet to fail me.  They always have a little bit of everything, just enough selection, large bouquets of fresh-cut flowers on the cheap and crepes! Oh, and cheese and bread and jams and such just like their bigger relatives, what’s not to like?

Regardless of where you live, what you like in a market or farm stand, whether you’ve never been to one or go all the time, support them. Especially if the produce is local!  The market is an experience. Plus, there’s nothing like a fresh radish, fresh lettuce, fresh asparagus and oh…. the fresh sugar snap peas… I can’t wait until they’re ready!

My challenge to you is this:  Get to a market (or farm stand).  Buy something new to you.  While you’re there, talk to the vendor.  REALLY talk to them.  Find out where they’re from, how long they’ve been growing produce or how long they’ve been selling at the market, some of their stories can be amazing.  This does a few things… gets you out, exposes you to something that could become a new favorite food, and brings back our connection to people, our food and where it comes from. It helps bring us full circle.

So, tomorrow is Saturday. If you’re looking for me I’ll be “at the Market” bright and early with coffee in hand, my market bag on my shoulder and hauling my son along to help carry… flowers.

I hope you go.  I hope you love it as much as I do.   And I hope you jiggety-jog as you go home again.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: