‘Tis the season for local fruit, vegetables, flowers, baked goods, cheese, meat, and more. All thanks to your local farmers’ market. While our markets are definitely seasonal in Minnesota, we have a lot to choose from in the Twin Cities metro area for the next five months or so. Our first visit of the season was to the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market. There is a large market location on Lyndale that is open daily, but Thursdays bring the fun downtown with a wide selection of vendors on Nicollet Mall every Thursday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. from May to November. And since it was nice and sunny last Thursday, we headed out over the lunch hour to peruse the incredible produce, plants, and treats (like fresh cheese curds, pies and chocolate sauce).
The average apple travels 1500 miles before you take your first bite. That only alarms me when I compare it to how I look and feel after traveling 1500 miles. Yeah, not pretty and certainly not “fresh.” So I kind of think it might be the same for the apple. Too bad we have to wait until fall for fresh Minnesota apples because Sweet Tangos are highly coveted in this household. But there are so many benefits to eating locally grown food at any time of the year. It tastes better. It’s fresher. It’s more nutritious. It strengthens the local economy. It’s good for the environment since it doesn’t have to travel so far to make it on your table. It helps to preserve undeveloped land such as farms. It promotes agricultural biodiversity. And it’s cheap. Enough said.
Since this was our first visit to the market this year, we checked out all of the booths. We sampled some amazing hummus, cheese, bread and chocolate sauce.
There are quite a few booths selling flowers as well as fruits and vegetables. And at very reasonable prices. You can get a large bouquet for $5, and a lot of the stands have trays of produce that are 3 for $5.
But there are also specialty items such as salsa, roasted nuts, beeswax candles and honey.
We stopped at our favorite spot to buy pickles. This vendor sells incredible flavors of pickles and peppers, and they let you try them all before buying. Today we walked away with jalapenos that are honestly the best we have ever had. The soggy store-bought canned ones have nothing on these fresh, crunchy delights.
We love to check out all of the vendors at the farmers’ market, but one of our other favorites is Dehn’s Garden, which offers an excellent selection of vegetables and herbs (at a great price of 4 for $10). This year we picked out four plants: jalapeno, orange mint, cilantro and arugula. We couldn’t resist our own jalapeno plant after buying the best jalapenos ever.
We rounded out our trip with a special find: morel mushrooms. Since they can only be found in the wild, they are a delicacy (at $38 per pound).
We didn’t buy as much food as we normally would since we were going out of town over the long weekend. But our goal for next year is to take it one step further and participate in community supported agriculture by purchasing a farm share, which will give us a heaping box full of fresh fruits and veggies delivered to our neighborhood weekly for about 18 weeks. The challenge will be to actually eat everything we receive because we can honestly say we’ve never purchased, let alone cooked, a rutabaga. So we have that to look forward to. For this year, we’ll be frequenting our local farmers’ markets in search of fresh fruits and veggies.
We hope you are also fortunate enough to have a farmers’ market in your community. And if you do, take advantage of it. For a comprehensive list of Minnesota farmers’ markets, click here. To find community supported agriculture across the United States, click here. And for a guide on what is in season in your state throughout the year, click here.