My favorite weekend experience of summer is my visit to the local farmer's market at Dupont Circle in Washington DC. It is both the delicious food and the wonderful community spirit that brings me back every Sunday that I am in town. And I am not alone in this romance with local,healthy food. Farmer's markets have exploded across the country in the last 10-15 years.
Going back to the mid 1970's when the New York Greenmarkets were first launched by an urban architect, Barry Benipee, I have been thrilled how farmer's markets have spread across the country and how they are sustaining our rural communities and bringing healthy food that is locally grown. The US Department of Agriculture reports that now 19,000 farmers only sell at farmer's markets. In fact, the number of markets has grown by 20% since 2004.
Every visit to the market is different. As the growing season changes, the colors of the fruits and vegetables change as well. Now, with summer in full swing, the healthy and marvelous food choices are endless. As I strolled around the stalls tasting the ripe peaches, juicy tomatoes and sweet blueberries that the farmers had offered for tasting, it was so much fun finding the ingredients for my week's menus.
Cinda Sebastian is a lovely, young farmer from Westminister, Maryland who brings huge bowls of organic greens to sell like spinach, mesclun, arugula, and more. I had a new delicious taste treat when I tried the purslane( this was a first for me!) which had a marvelous lemony flavor Then in front of the greens Cinda lays bunches of all kinds of fesh herbs like sage, tarragon,rosemary,basil and many others.And deep purple bunches of beets lie casually beside them. Needless, to say I scooped up enough salad fixings for several variations on a splendid theme to bring to my healthy table.
The market choices seem almost endless and go way beyond fruits and veggies. Several farmers from Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland bring in artisan cheeses, naturally leavened breads along with organic beef, lamb and chickens and fresh homemade pasta. There must be more than 20 stalls filled with a full spectrum of delicious healthy food and flowers and all are grown so close to home. For me, that is a tradition to honor and sustain.
What is it about your local farmers market that makes it so special to you.? What are your best picks of summer? Let me know what you are finding in your local market right now.
From Ellen's Healthy Table: A favorite Market Recipe:
Published On: August 03, 2007