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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why Farmer's Markets are the BEST!

Love Farmer's Markets!  I have two favorites, but I will happily go to any Farmer's Market I stumble across.  I live close to the Oakland County (Pontiac) Farmer's Market, and they are open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through the spring, summer and fall.  Depending on the season, you can pick up plants, produce, and products like honey and fresh baked breads.  I love going there for my favorite vendors too.  On the Southwest corner, a very nice older gent sells the best sweet corn.  I stop by each week, and he always gives me a deal, and is never stingy with the compliments!  Though I do have a well stocked garden, I do not grow everything, and it is always nice to interact with others at the markets.  I take along a few canvas bags and my market cart to make my trip easy.

 Another vendor sells "ugly tomatoes" on the side.  I buy them all.  They are half price, and are perfect for sauces, pastes, and hot sauce.  Why?  Because you just cut the ugly off!  Unless you are doing a grand presentation, or need perfect slices for a party, you do not need perfect.  If you are concerned about organic and pesticide free produce, some of it is going to be ugly.  Apples do not come off the tree with a layer of wax, and bugs will always want to compete with you for food.  You can certainly be picky, I am, (mealy apples are useless) but one spot here or there can be removed.  Do talk to the vendors, ask them if they use any types of pesticides or herbicides.  It is very important in canning that you get chemical free produce.  No matter how much you wash, pesticides are not readily removed from your produce, and canning can compound the chemicals and cause a bad taste.  If you are uncertain, look at the texture of your produce, is it waxy feeling, (pesticides) does it make your fingers feel sticky?  Smell it.  Yea, you might get a few strange stares, but who cares!  If you are not happy with a particular stall, go to another.  Many organic farmers may not have the certification because it is expensive to get certified, so visit, talk, and feel your food.

Another favorite market is Eastern Market in Detroit.  This market has everything!  There are hundreds of vendors, and you can get just about everything here.  There are shops that surround the market that sell wines, meats, and breakfast!  The pavilions house so many farmers, that you can easily get lost.  Bring a cart, get a map, and get there super early.  The market opens at 4am, and I try to be there at around 6am.
Other little markets dot the area around me, and I like to visit them as well.  You may only be going to make dinner, but these markets are excellent ways to get organic cheap.  Farmer's Markets have great prices, and are usually half of what you would spend for organic at the supermarket.  Also, you are buying local, helping your own local economy, a win-win situation!
If you have a favorite market, send me a comment about it.

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