To Market, To Market…

Our splattered van on a market visit

Our splattered van on a visit to Detroit’s Eastern Market

Planning to work in your yarden and need flowers, herbs or other plants so you can build your own Michelle Obama kitchen garden?

market pickles_9087Looking to eat better with farm fresh ingredients and locally produced foods?

Want a great people-watching experience?

Pack your fanny pack with lots of one dollar bills and plan a trip to your local farmer’s market, a growing phenomenon across Michigan. Our’s is Detroit’s Eastern Market, which has been operating since 1891. It not only services the restaurant and food industry six days a week, it’s a public market on Saturdays with about 250 vendors setting up temporary shop. From July to October there’s a smaller public market on Tuesdays.

To find a market check the website of the Michigan Farmers Market Associationwhich counts more than 280 across the state—up from about 90 a dozen years ago. The non-profit MIFMA “works with and for farmers market organizers, managers, farmers, vendors and friends to create a thriving marketplace for local food and farm products.”market potatoes_9108

Some farmers operate roadside stands or stores on their farms. Check with the Michigan Agri-Tourism Associationwhich combines two of the state’s top industries by promoting and encouraging Michigan agricultural activities that visitors can enjoy such as U-pick farms and orchards, wineries, farm stays, corn mazes and horseback riding.

The bounty of fresh fruits and veggies, meats, eggs and cheese—not to mention local honey, jams, breads, pickles and other goodies—is enough to inspire creativity in the kitchen, and some markets offer cooking demonstrations focused on healthier eating.

Food samples, street musicians, artist booths and colorful vendors round out the sensory experience at many of the larger markets.

market wagon-_91401Tips for visiting a farm market:

  • bring small bills; most vendors don’t take credit cards
  • tote your own totes for carrying your goods
  • if you plan to buy meats or poultry, bring a cooler and ice packs
  • drag a wagon to lug your stuff (and kiddies)
  • take your time; this is not fast food shopping
  • arrive early for best selection, later for best bargaining (farmers don’t want to take their perishables home with them)
  • bring a friend to share the bounty rather than over-buy or pass up good deals
  • leave the dog at home; some markets ban them, and there’s usually too much activity to be a good experience for a pooch
  • bring your camera––there are lots of photo ops

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All stories and photos copyright Kath Usitalo unless otherwise noted