Entertaining Under The Influence… How to Farmer’s Market
If you don’t want to be like a regular mom you want to be like a cool mom you better get your ass down to a farmer’s market. Or if you’re against the soul-sucking resource- destroying regimen that that is Monsanto, overpriced ocean-shipped organic produce, or just want food that tastes like food get your reusable bags ready. Despite the frequent dismissal of markets as a hipster haven the rekindled popularity of the market has brought in a huge wave of new places to shop and explore. With so many options it can be hard to know where to start, especially if you happen to be intimidated by the mom killing it in nudies, wedges, with a baby strapped across her chest and a bushel of kale big enough to feed Alicia Silverstone for a month. Here’s how to survive.
How to Shop
A couple things to know before you hop out the door. It’s a good idea to carry cash, I’m highly offended by bank fees and many places won’t offer you any other options. Bring your own bags. Or everyone will judge you- there I said it. But not really, and also kind of? Why aren’t you doing this already? Always plan ahead. If you think you may be enticed to buy several pounds of strawberries don’t take your bike and you’re dog that day. Also go early, especially on weekends.
I always come with a list, but unlike the grocery story where my list is highly regimented at the market its more of a suggestion. Check out who’s popular, where they are selling from (a specific farm? or a are they trying to act like lemons and kiwi grow in Canada?), and what looks good. This way you don’t regret buying that asparagus when you turn a corner and see much better product.
In addition to stopping for some lunchtime tacos don’t be shy to ask merchants if you can taste what they have to offer. Beans, strawberries and smaller items are often presented as up for grabs but ask about things like apples or carrots. My favorite part about shopping at farmer’s markets is eating everything. Imagine the samples at Costco but one million times better. And the cheese. oh what cheeses. Eat them all.
Seasons for Ripe Pickins’
If you want to eat local you need to know how things grow locally. By eating with seasons not only are you supporting a return to a classical and more natural eating style but you’r eating only the freshest and most delicious foods available. Shwing. Central Canadians can foolow these guidelines. If you’re way on the left or right coast the seasons may change by a couple of weeks. No worries, just ask. Or you know, google.
Arugula, Asparagus, Fiddleheads, Herbs, Lettuce, Radishes, Rhubarb, Spinach
All of the produce from May PLUS
Beans, green & wax, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cherries (but not until late in the month),Cucumbers, Herbs, Kohlrabi, Peas, Radiccio, Strawberries, Turnips
Apricots, Beans, Beets, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Cherries, Corn, Currants, Gooseberries, Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Plums (yellow), Potatoes, Rapini, Raspberries, Rutabaga, Spinach, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Turnips, Zucchini/Other summer squash
Everything from July (save for strawberries, which have peaked but can be ok) PLUS
Apples, Canteloupe, Cucumber (fresh field), Eggplant, Garlic, Grapes, Kale, Leeks, Muskmelon, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Peppers, Plums, Shallots, Tomatillos, Watermelon
Obviously you’re going to take all your delicious goodies home and make beautiful fresh nourishing food. But market food is a little different from supermarket food. There is a reason why cultures that shop at markets go 3 or 4 times each week. Unlike the traditional Western once a week foodfest this food actually goes bad. In like a few days, less than you think. Eat your produce right away if you can and plan your next visit soon. And for the love of all things that are holy do not put your tomatoes in the fridge. Sacrilege.
Here’s a list of daily markets throughout Toronto. The St. Lawrence Market is a classic. My first market where my Dad would take me every Saturday at 7am. I liked looking at the dead pigs. Brickworks has a strong following as does Trinity Bellwoods. If you research within your given area I always find that there are little secret market happenings. Also important, My Market allows you to research whether the produce you buy is certifiably from the greenbelt and therefore local. A great tool to have around.
If you’re daytripping. Markets in Guelph, Wasaga/Collingwood, and (pie capital of Ontario) St. Jacobs have insanely good products with a lower key vibe.
Seriously worth the visit just for the bounty of local products, and my home. When at the market remember, it’s a French market. It’s a little more natural and a little less lysol. Also, as happy as the merchants are to be selling their wares they will likely act as though they’re doing you a favor. They mean well- just smile, merci beaucoup, and enjoy. Jean-Talon is the classic its beautiful and sprawling. Atwater has always been my favorite. There’s 3 for $14 local cheeses and some killer saucisses.