Farmer’s Markets: Near and Far

10 Aug

There are many nice things about being at home: spending time with family, eating favorite meals, and the general familiarity of everything.  One thing I also love about coming home is the opportunity to enjoy my hometown and it’s micro-urban characteristics [thanks go to wikipedia for the new term].  This saturday, I joined my Mom and our dog, Zuzu, in their tradition of going to the Saturday Farmer’s Market.  After my increased awareness of food issues over the past year, I was interested to see what things I now noticed and what differences I perceived from the Chicago Markets that I frequent [primarily Green City and Division Street].  Specifically, I wanted to answer the question: Do Farmer’s Markets vary like they should from region to region and season to season?  Or, does the supply merely reflect what people will actually buy at the markets?

In general, there was much less variety in terms of fruit at the Kansas market, as I would expect for both the region and time of year.  However, the Lawrence market had more variety than the Chicago markets, and they are all about the same size.  This was apparent in terms of produce and other gardening products [see below].  That being said, I was sad to see some of my market staples like spinach and baby lettuces completely absent [I usually get them from Growing Home at the Green City Market].  Additionally, there were only a couple meat vendors and only one farm with fresh eggs here in Lawrence.  [Note that it was my fault we didn’t get any also as I slept in and they were gone by 9 am.]  One thing that I think both markets don’t do well is providing fresh, made-to-order food at the market.  I’d love to find more prepared foods to enjoy while shopping.  So, in conclusion, I felt the Chicago market catered better to a patrons needs while the Lawrence market.  In other words, you could more easily do all your shopping at Green City than Lawrence’s market, but the Lawrence market had more unusual and fun finds.  I am happy to report that both markets show a good representation of what is grown locally and seasonally.  I didn’t see odd things that wouldn’t be out of character for the type of food we should see at a local market.

Some other things I enjoyed about the Lawrence market on Saturday:
1. I didn’t know that you could buy a Yellow Watermelon.  But, honestly, we didn’t realize this until we cut into it at home…
2. One farm sold worm castings and casting tea.
3. There were lots of non-food related items [lots of fresh flowers and shrubs, soaps, dog treats, local textiles].
4. A couple musicians graced us with their music, which is always a great way to start the day.

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