Farmers Markets are all the rage right now. And I am one of their biggest fans. The local food movement has taken this country captive and I hope it is here to stay.
Whenever I visit a new city, I make it my goal to visit the local farmers market. So when I went to Madison, WI, home of the largest producer-only farmers market in the country with 150 vendors each Saturday and Wednesday, I had to see it. Up early on Saturday morning, bags ready to be filled and the crisp fall air hits me right in the face. I take a huge breath and dive in. Into the crowd, fighting my way to… the cheese curds! Cheese curds are an indulgent for my usual almost vegan diet. If I am in Wisconsin then I must have cheese curds. And boy did I indulge. Every other booth at the Madison Farmers Market is cheese. I guess I did not expect any less. My first bit squeaked with delight and I was ready for another. After garlic, dill, cheddar, white cheddar and even some cheddar popcorn, I had my fix. Thank you Wisconsin!
America took the lovely concept of the farmers market from Europe and they actually date back to the very beginnings of our country. The first market began in 1683 in Boston with citizens meeting on the main thoroughfare in town to trade goods. In the past twenty years they have enjoyed a great renaissance popping up in major and smaller cities across the U.S. You can buy all your produce for the week, enjoy some local music, browse local art works, catch-up with friends and support your local economy all in one place for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning. The farmers market eliminates the need to drive all over town to accomplish your weekend tasks. Local farmers rely on the support of their surrounding communities for their livelihoods and you receive the satisfaction of purchasing foods and goods that have a much lower carbon footprint than your surrounding retail stores. I love the warm, fuzzy feeling I get when I walk home from the market with a bag full of deliciousness.
Top reasons to pull yourself out of bed on a Saturday morning:
1. Support local economy.
2. Support local food.
3. Support your neighbors.
4. Support your community.
5. Support your health.
6. Support your children and the next generation.
7. Support your land.
8. Support the air and water you breath/consume each day.
9. Support your grumbling stomach.
10. Support your family’s grumbling stomachs.
Wisconsin has a great love of their local farmers and take pride in being the heartland of dairy. It was no surprise that the market in Madison proved to be one of the best markets I have had the chance to experience.
Only a few more weeks until summer farmers markets wrap up for the year. Many places offer winter markets now as well. St. Louis has two that I frequent to get me through the winter months. One by Tower Grove Park and the other at Schlafly Bottleworks. You can find a list of farmers markets in your area at the Farmland Trust. See you at the market!