To me a visit to a summer farmer's market is like a day at the beach. Call them farmer's markets, or as we do in New York City -- Greenmarkets -- they are our direct connection with our farmers and producers. While we may talk year-round about buying local, now is when talk turns to opportunity. The growing season -- halleluiah -- is here.
So this week's newsletter is to give you a bit of a nudge to get back to your local market. And if you need more information, whether it's where to shop or what to do once you get there, I've also got some extra help for you.
Where Are the Markets?
If you're not a regular market goer, there are web resources to help.
For New Yorkers, remember that some Greenmarkets are open year-round but others are seasonal and will be opening in the next few weeks as the farm crops start booming. Also remember that some urban markets are near where you work so just because a market keeps a workweek schedule, don't rule it out. Go buy your tomatoes at lunchtime.
In NYC there are three best sources for market data:
Grow NYC: This is the new name for New York's Greenmarkets. A list of market locations, schedules and other resources are at their website. Visit grownyc.org/greenmarket
What is Fresh is a new site that has both market locations and schedules as well as information about products for sale. Go to WhatIsFresh.com
My favorite Greenmarket site continues to be Lucy's Greenmarket Report. While she lives near and shops the mega-Greenmarket at Union Square, her on-the-ground intelligence is a window into what's for sale at any of the New York City Greenmarkets. Paste this into your browser to connect: http://www.echonyc.com/~lwollin/greenmarket.html
Outside of New York City, the best national information resource for farmers markets, as well as community gardening and CSA (community supported agriculture) is Local Harvest.org.
Community Supported Agriculture and Urban Farms
It's not too late to join a CSA. While some are fully subscribed, others remain open and most will be bringing their members local farm products right through the late fall. In the New York area the best way to start is by visiting Just Food where there's a list of CSAs by borough and neighborhood.
Just Food is also the place to look for information about urban gardening in the New York City area.
New Amsterdam Market
The dedicated and generous people behind New Amsterdam Market remain optimistic about achieving their goal of having a year-round indoor artisanal market for New York City. They are gradually collecting political support and they've already captured the hearts, shopping bags, and wallets of many New York area farmers, producers and home cooks.
Although New Amsterdam Market doesn't yet have a permanent home, they still have a summer's worth of markets that will take place at the East River in Lower Manhattan, on South Street between Beekman Street and Peck Slip. You can also sign up for their newsletter and other mailings and you'll get alerts for future markets and events.
* Sunday, June 27
* Saturday, July 24 (City of Water Day)
* Sunday, August 22
* Then every Sunday from September 12 to December 19 (no market Sunday, November 28)
Latest from Michael Pollan
The provocative food journalist Michael Pollan has a major article in the June issue of The New York Review of Books. It's a helpful recap of the history of food politics and while I've sometimes found Mr. Pollan discouragingly pessimistic, this time he ends his piece almost with a prayer.
If you don't have time to read it now, I suggest you bookmark it for the future. But read it. The complete article (plus all the footnotes) is at NYBooks.com.
Markets of New York City
Okay, so you've found local markets -- both artisanal and direct from the farm. Now how do you get started as a regular customer? And is it different to shop at markets like these than at the supermarkets you're accustomed to?
For help we turned to Karen Seiger, author of a spirited, charming and very useful new book, Markets of New York City ($16.95, paperback with color photos, The Little Bookroom). Compact enough to slip into your pocket (6" by 4 3/4" and 265 pages) yet packed with details, Ms. Seiger's book encompasses more than food. Its first chapters focus on Artisan and Flea Markets as well as Holiday Markets. But to our purpose here at The City Cook, we were interested in her Food and Farmers Markets.
What's best besides all the useful data (locations, hours of operations, subway access) is the book's unbridled enthusiasm. It's as if Ms. Steiger were to say, "why shop anywhere else when you have markets like these!?"
We spoke with Karen about market shopping and regardless where you live, her advice and market wisdom is something to hear. See our link to listen to her podcast.
Enjoy the markets, talk to the farmers, and buy local.