Monday, July 20, 2015

How you live--Farmers Markets

Today seems like a good day to start our responses to the How you live bioregional quiz. The first questions is:

On what day is your local farmers market?

Chisago City Farmers Market - rhubarb and eggs
Chisago City Farmers Market - rhubarb and eggs
Photo by J. Harrington

Without getting as existential as former President Clinton did with the distinction between "is" and "was," to answer this question we need to explore the meaning of the word "your." The answer, in regard to farmers' markets, could be more obvious if we lived in Minneapolis or St. Paul or some community that had their own farmers market. For residents of those cities it's fair to assume that each would have "their" farmers market. Unless, of course, perhaps because of physical proximity, some residents of St. Paul regularly shopped at the Minneapolis market, or vice versa. This also can occur outside the Twin Cities. The definition of "your" in those cases would be based on the market which the shopper regularly frequented. That seems like a better approach, although we don't shop at any market regularly but irregularly frequent 3 or 4 in our neck of the woods so we still haven't nailed it down. Throughout Minnesota there are 183 farmers markets, according to Minnesota Grown. Within 10 miles of our place, there's this half dozen:
  1. Chisago City Farmers Market--Fri
  2. Forest Lake Farmers Market--Tue
  3. North Branch Farmers Market--Sat
  4. North Branch Farmers Market Fest--Fri
  5. Wyoming Farmers Market--Thu
  6. Lindstrom Farmers Market--Wed, Sat
Although each of them is also listed as having a Winter Farmers Market, most seasons are only listed as running into October, which, even with Minnesota's occasional Halloween Blizzard, isn't usually considered Winter.

Chisago City Farmers Market - asparagus
Chisago City Farmers Market - asparagus
Photo by J. Harrington

If we go out to 25 miles from home, there's a total of 21 markets listed under both Farmers Market and Winter Farmers Market. That makes me more than a little suspicious of the accuracy of the Winter listings. On the other hand, the listing for each market at Minnesota Grown appears to include the period for which it's open. In addition, some of the individual markets have their own web sites and, the one closest to us, also sends out email updates of what's available and other interesting tidbits. Others are listed on the Local Harvest web site and/or the Minnesota Farmers Market Association site.

As I'm sure you know, Farmers Markets are but one element in a local food system that also includes Community Supported Agriculture, food cooperatives, possibly food hubs and other production, distribution and sale nodes in the network. Since I'm helping the Minnesota Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council organize a discussion next month.about the Twin Cities system, and you're welcome to join us, I'm putting in a self-serving plug. Here's some details.

Chisago City Farmers Market - vegetables
Chisago City Farmers Market - vegetables
Photo by J. Harrington

08/13 - Putting a Fork in It:
Eating Local; Growing Sustainable

Thurs, 08/13 | 4:15-6:30p | RJM Construction, Minneapolis

How are Minnesota organizations supporting sustainable living through local food production? Join us at our next Green Scene where representatives from the local food system will discuss how to stay healthy by enjoying fresher, healthier food; growing foodsheds by supporting local farmers, benefits to the local economy by keeping food dollars in the community, and understanding where food comes from, what’s in season and how to make it delicious.
Stay for happy hour to connect with others who are passionate about all areas of sustainability over great food, drink and lively conversation.

4:15: Registration
4:30: Program
5:30: Happy Hour

Pricing and Registration:
$15 Members | $20 Guests
Register Here


By William Matthews
How easily happiness begins by   
dicing onions. A lump of sweet butter   
slithers and swirls across the floor   
of the sauté pan, especially if its   
errant path crosses a tiny slick
of olive oil. Then a tumble of onions.

This could mean soup or risotto   
or chutney (from the Sanskrit
chatni, to lick). Slowly the onions   
go limp and then nacreous
and then what cookbooks call clear,   
though if they were eyes you could see

clearly the cataracts in them.
It’s true it can make you weep
to peel them, to unfurl and to tease   
from the taut ball first the brittle,   
caramel-colored and decrepit
papery outside layer, the least

recent the reticent onion
wrapped around its growing body,   
for there’s nothing to an onion
but skin, and it’s true you can go on   
weeping as you go on in, through   
the moist middle skins, the sweetest

and thickest, and you can go on   
in to the core, to the bud-like,   
acrid, fibrous skins densely   
clustered there, stalky and in-
complete, and these are the most   
pungent, like the nuggets of nightmare

and rage and murmury animal   
comfort that infant humans secrete.   
This is the best domestic perfume.   
You sit down to eat with a rumor
of onions still on your twice-washed   
hands and lift to your mouth a hint

of a story about loam and usual   
endurance. It’s there when you clean up   
and rinse the wine glasses and make   
a joke, and you leave the minutest   
whiff of it on the light switch,
later, when you climb the stairs.

Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.