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More than fresh farm produce can be found at farmers markets

More than fresh farm produce can be found at farmers markets
More than fresh farm produce can be found at farmers markets
Suetta Tingler

It has been said that “summer has a flavor like no other, always fresh and simmered in sunshine.” Think healthy and smart by making time to shop local farmers markets where you can stroll among the baskets, bins and tables laden with colorful hand-picked fruits and vegetables. Soak in the sights and smells. Catch a sniff of fresh-cut herbs, savor the whiffs of small batch home-baked breads, sample the taste of a new wine or dazzle yourself with a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers.

There’s nothing better than to visit farmers markets during the summer and into the pumpkin-picking season.

Farmers markets can be the place to find the best quality of locally grown seasonal produce. Mixed alongside the produce you’re likely to bump into other possibilities to spark your interest. A sampling of wares generally includes meats, eggs, fresh herbs, spices, coffees, jams, preserves, honey and syrups, dog treats, wine, artisan crafts and candles, fresh-cut flowers and potted plants, depending upon the season you visit.

Farmers markets have become favorite places to meet your neighbor to chat and to bid friends well. These markets make good places to mingle among farmers, Master Gardeners, apiarists, mycologists, dietitians and vintners who are eager to share their expertise.

Loyal patrons have been visiting farmers markets since the idea of such took root back in 1730 in Lancaster, Pa. Times and tastes have changed since those early days, but markets have continued to sprout up near small sustainable farms as well as on the fringe of large urban environments. The popularity of farmers markets continues to grow by the emergence of gardening clubs, green-thumb hobbies, increasing interest in cooking and consumer concerns centered around the quality, freshness and safety of the food people consume. Likewise,the farm-to-table movement has had its influence on promoting healthy, local, organic food as well. Farmers markets have proven to be a win-win for both the farmers and consumers.

Within our country, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, California, New York, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are recognized for hosting the largest number of farmers markets. not only shares an award-winning collection of recipes, but also identifies top farmers markets across the United States. I spotlight a couple of these highly rated markets located nearest us in Southern Indiana: Soulard Farmers Market since 1779, in St. Louis, and the Nashville (Tenn.) Farmers Market in business since 1801. At the Soulard Market, it’s not uncommon to find stalls selling live geese, chickens, ducks and turkeys. The Nashville Market features two outdoor open-air farm sheds of fresh produce, a food hall featuring more than 16 local restaurants offering foods that spans the globe as well as a full garden center.

Other nationally recognized historic farmers markets of interest found across our country include:

•Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia, Pa., has been making history since 1893, selling fresh produce and dairy as well as a traditional mix of Pennsylvania Dutch foods. Amish-twisted pretzels and pork roll sandwiches along with raspberry truffle ice cream dazzle the palate as well as the eye.

•Pike Place Market, Seattle, Wash., in operation since 1907, is famed not only for its flowers, produce and being the original site of Starbucks, but is prized for its fresh fish and throwing fishmongers.

•Westside Market, Cleveland, Ohio, is the place shoppers can expect to find a diverse mix of vendors representing many ethnic cultures.

•L.A. Farmers Market is located in downtown Los Angeles. It began in the 1930s when farmers gathered in a field to sell their produce directly to the local people.

For history buffs of our Southern Indiana-Kentucky area, the Haymarket once located in downtown Louisville was established in 1891 as an urban outdoor farmers market. It occupied the block between Jefferson, Liberty, Floyd and Brook streets. Despite its name, local truck farmers of the time didn’t sell hay in a meaningful way. Customers of the Haymarket were called “curb buyers” because vendors were allowed to use only three feet of sidewalk space to hock their goods. Like most markets, haggling was expected, which continues to be an acceptable practice even at markets today. During my research on the Haymarket, I discovered that many of Louisville’s early market vendors were Italian and Lebanese immigrants. The Haymarket had a good 71-year run before officially closing its stalls for good.

Farmers markets continue to evolve beyond items for consumption. These days at farmers markets, it’s not uncommon to find entertainment, lectures, cooking demonstrations, book signings and original art work for sale. Food vendors and food trucks, medicinal herbs, Bloody Mary bars, coffee shops, knife sharpening, kitchen services and even historic town and holiday tours are often available.

Each year, there’s the National Farmers Market week to celebrate. In 2022, it’s Aug. 7 through 13.

Hints &. Tips when shopping farmers markets:

•Bring cash

•Bring your own shopping bags

•Know what’s in season

•Plan meals as you shop

•Survey before buying; take a lap for overall prices

•Ask about EBT cards and stamp benefits

•Go early for best selection or go late to save money

•Purchase more than produce

•Try new things and savor the experience

Food for thought:

We are blessed in our local area to be able to support the Fred Cammack Corydon Farmers Market on Fridays evenings from 4 to 7 and the Harrison County Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m.

(“Dinosaur BarBQue” cookbook)
1 pound new red potatoes
1 pound fresh asparagus
1/2 large red bell pepper, seeded
1/2 cup slivered red onion
5 tablespoons Creole mustard or spicy brown mustard
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, fine minced
6 tablespoons olive oil
Tabasco sauce
Scrub potatoes and cook in boiling salted water to cover until tender. Without peeling, cut into 3/4-inch cubes and put into a bowl. Clean and cook asparagus tops until crisp tender in simmering salted water. Drain and shock in cold water. Slice asparagus into 1-1/2-inch pieces and add to potatoes. Cut bell pepper into sticks about the same width and length as the asparagus. Add with red onion to potato bowl. Mix up dressing by stirring together mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, pepper and garlic; drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly to make creamy. Add a couple dashes of Tabasco to boost the flavor to liking. Splash dressing onto the vegetables and give all a good stir. Serve right away for best color in the asparagus. Feeds 6.

4 medium zucchinis
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of sugar
Parmesan cheese
Coarsely shred the zucchini. Add to the melted butter in a skillet along with all the seasonings. Cover and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once. Serves 4; easy to increase. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

(Junior League of Mobile, Ala.)
2 heaping tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons bacon grease
3 cups water
6 to 8 large tomatoes, peeled, diced
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
Bell pepper, optional
Brown flour in bacon grease; it doesn’t need to be very dark. Add water, tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar. At this point, if desired, add chopped bell pepper. Simmer in an iron skillet about 45 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Good over grits or biscuits for breakfast.

(Southern Living magazine)
1/3 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 cups thinly sliced cucumbers
1 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onion
2 tablespoons fresh dill sprigs
Vigorously whisk together white vinegar, olive oil, sugar, kosher salt and black pepper in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Add cucumbers, onion and dill sprigs; stir to combine. Let stand, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Serves 4.

(California Sizzles: Junior League of Pasadena, Calif.)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh corn
2 tablespoons fresh, finely shredded basil
1/2 cup chopped green onions
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium skillet, heat butter over medium high heat until the foam subsides. Sauté corn for about 4 minutes (the corn will be partially browned). Place corn in a serving bowl; add basil, green onions, salt and pepper and toss. Serve warm or cold. Serves 4; easy to increase.