Old MacDonald Now Shops at a Farmers Market
By Anonymous in Food on Jun 8, 2005 1:12AM
Are you like Chicagoist? Does the warmer weather coupled with the tourist-laden congestion of the city make you yearn for a simpler life? (Tourists…we love you! Please continue to visit! You help keep our sales tax down to a manageable 8.75%!). Do you have visions of turning your 10 x 10 patio into a Martha Stewart/P. Allen Smith heaven, without the jail time or southern drawl? But then, like Chicagoist, you realize you’d never find Thai food, you’d actually have to brew your own coffee, and the neighbor’s dog already does unmentionable things to the sad-sack plants you do try to grow outside. Your answer? Farmer’s Markets! They are all over the city and suburbs, and to ignore them is to ignore the bounty that is…oh, whatever, they’re cheaper than Dominick’s and Jewel and they stay fresher longer as well (as has been our experience).
Farmers markets run from May until November, and you can find a list of them at www.cityofchicago.org, (click on Special Events). We frequent the weekly ones at Daley Plaza (the Picasso sculpture, on Thursdays) and Federal Plaza (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off orange sculpture, on Tuesdays), but there are plenty more in the city and burbs. This is a great way to get just the right amount of fresh produce for the week, and (pretension alert!) it reminds us of the markets in Europe, which has it’s own coolness factor. You can get fruits and vegetables, like a bunch of thick-stemmed asparagus anywhere from $1.50 to 2.00, bundles of herbs for $1.00, as well as flowers (enormous peony flowers for $5 a bunch…get them now, by the end of June they will be gone). They also have potted herbs, 3 for $5, perfect for the window box gardener. Chicagoist picked up a large container of red potatoes for a barbecue recipe coming in the next post for $2.00. We were also able to pick up a bunch of rhubarb that was a gorgeous red color, and made a delicious crumble…which disappeared pretty quickly along with a half gallon of vanilla ice cream. There are specialty items at the farmers markets as well, like homemade jams and jellies for $4-$5 a jar, honey and honeycomb for the same prices, and other items such as orchids. There are also a lot of bakeries, selling breads from $3 up to pastries…pies sold whole, half, and as little as one slice ($2.50 and up), perfect for after lunch.
Many of the farmers come from Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois (did you know most of Illinois is farmland? Who knew? We’re so sheltered). Get out and support them, buy some fresh fruit and veggies, do a little people watching, and take some flowers back to the office. It may be as close as you’ll get to your own Green Acres all summer.