Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Farmer's Markets

One of the absolute best things about summer has to be the revival of the local farmers market. While many areas have farmer’s markets year round, it is no exaggeration to say that the produce literally explodes in the summer. In my native Louisiana, the local growing seasons are often slightly different from other places in the country.  By June, strawberries have come and gone and blueberries have just started to emerge. But if there is anything that early June is good for, it’s the start of eggplants and the glory of tomatoes. Louisiana has some of the most delicious tomatoes in the form of “Creole tomatoes” which can only be grown in certain areas in the state. They are famous for the distinct shapes and meaty flavors. I’ll confess that I spend a good part of the year dreaming about what these real, summer tomatoes taste like and can hardly contain myself when the season rolls around.

On my recent visit to the Baton Rouge Red Stick farmer's market I also saw eggplants of all shapes and sizes. There were small ones, long ones, fat ones, tall ones. Eggplants come in all shades from deep purple to lavender to even white.  Louisiana also has other interesting produce, like the cushaw. The cushaw is a variety of squash native to Louisiana and best eaten sweet, cooked in sugar and butter. I had never seen one before but was excited when I found them in abundance at the market.  Farmer's markets provide the chance to find all kinds of these local treats, no matter which state you’re in.

Regardless of where you live and eat and cook, summer is the ultimate time to find and take advantage of local farmers markets.  If you’re in Philadelphia you’ll find that there is a farmer’s market almost every day of the week in the summer (see below). To find a farmer’s market anywhere in the nation look here.

Farmer’s Markets in Philadelphia:

Tuesdays: Rittenhouse Square, 10 am – 1 pm
Wednesdays: University Square (36th and Walnut) 10 am – 3 pm
Thursdays: Clark Park, 3 pm – 7 pm 
Saturdays: Rittenhouse Square, 9 am- 3 pm, Clark Park 10am – 2 pm
Sundays: Headhouse Farmers Market (2nd and Lombard) 10 am – 2 pm

--Post and photos by Leyla Mocan

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