Mid-summer to late fall is probably my favorite time of year, and no it has nothing to do with the colors and being outside all the time – although I am a sucker for paddle boarding down a lazy river lined with golden and green trees drinking beer from my favorite brewery with some friends. No, it’s farmer’s market season! It’s the very not-long-enough time of year when I get to take full advantage of paying farmers directly, when I get to stock up on local produce every week, when I can see what’s in season and maybe try something new. Did you know there are over 10 varieties of garlic? I didn’t. And most garlic in the stores is several months old! Farmer’s markets are not just for produce, either. Local bread bakers, pie makers, pasta makers, butchers, florists, and even coffee roasters can all be found at these weekly weekend gatherings. Food trucks have gotten into the mix too, so make it a brunch or lunch outing and support several small businesses all in one place!
Why are farmer’s markets important? These farmers understand the importance of rotating crops, growing seasonally to keep the soil healthy so that the produce stays rich in nutrients and flavor. Supporting local farmers means that you are helping create a demand for nutrient-rich foods. You’re also decreasing demand on foods imported from Mexico and California, which affects the fuel and water costs to grow and ship those foods. Does one person have a significant effect on these macro-concepts? No. Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Be the change, start with you and what you’d like to see happen more; support local, shop small, think big.
If you have the time, please listen to/watch Chef Dan Barber’s TEDTalk. That whole if you could invite 8 people dead or alive to your dinner party who would it be thing? He’s in my top 8.
How do you know if your city has a market? If you live near a major city you have access to several and at least one is probably close to you. Denver has 10, some on Saturdays and some on Sundays, and Boulder has one twice a week, Saturdays and in the evenings on Wednesday. If you live in a smaller/large city you probably have one as well, just Google search your area and weekly weekend markets!
Denver’s season is winding down, here’s what’s left after tomorrow!
CHERRY CREEK FRESH MARKET – ends 10/29
E. 1st Ave. and University Blvd.
CITY PARK ESPLANADE FRESH MARKET – ends 10/30
E. Colfax Ave. and Columbine St.
HIGHLANDS RANCH FARMERS’ AND STREET MARKET – ends 10/30
9288 Dorchester St., Highlands Ranch
OLD SOUTH PEARL STREET FARMERS’ MARKET – ends 11/13
On the 1500 block of Old South Pearl St., between Florida Ave. and Iowa Ave.
Market shopping tips:
Walk around first! See which farmer/stand is offering produce at the best price.
Haggle! Kale $4/bunch but could look better? Ask for it for $3 or 2/$5. Also, at the end of the farmer’s markets you can usually get more for less since they don’t want to haul a bunch of stuff out with them.
Have no idea what you’re looking at or for or how to cook it? Ask! The farmers LOVE to chat up who ever is buying their produce. These are family owned and operated farms, they take deep pride in their bounty, and are deeply passionate about food. You might even score a sample of veggies and fruits that don’t need to be cooked so you can try before you buy! Have you ever eaten a bite of an heirloom tomato fresh picked that morning? It’s definitely nothing like the tomato you get with your burger. Try it next summer when it’s tomato season again.