Bruce Bradley is a former processed food marketer turned food advocate and author. After working at some of the world’s largest food companies, Bruce now blogs about the tricks, traps, and tools big food marketers use to get you eating more and more processed food.
His first book, FAT PROFITS, has just been published. It’s a thriller about a corrupt food company that will stop at nothing to fatten its profits and become a Wall Street darling. Who knew food could be so dangerous? To learn more about Bruce Bradley you can visit his blog, follow him on Twitter @authorbruce, or check him out on Facebook.
Farmers Market Update: Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis, Minnesota
On the shores of the mighty Mississippi wedged between the Mill City Museum, the historic Stone Arch Bridge, and Minneapolis’ Guthrie Theatre, something amazing pops up every Saturday from mid-May until the last weekend in October: the Mill City Farmers Market. Although it’s not the largest farmers market in the Twin Cities, it’s definitely one of the best. With an inspiring mission “to support local, sustainable and organic agriculture, increasing economic opportunities for farmers, urban youth, small businesses and food artisans,” a visit to the Mill City Farmers Market makes you feel better about the world you live in.
Entertainment abounds at the Mill City Farmers Market. Each week there’s a different theme, live music, and product demos. This week’s theme was Oktoberfest and featured a beer garden serving a variety of Lift Bridge beers and a German band playing some bierhaus classics.
Adding brilliant, jewel-like colors to the market, flower bouquets and cockscomb filled one vendor’s booth. If you haven’t been to a farmers market in a while, you definitely need to give it a try. It’s not just about produce anymore.
Of course it’s always good to see some of the classics like corn. There’s nothing better than fresh corn on the cob, and it’s one of my son’s favorites. I especially enjoyed the sign on Nistler’s corn stand: no GMOs, no fungicides, and “worms, yep.” I’ll gladly take a little worm damage to the tip of the cob (which can easily be cut off) in exchange for GMO-free, pesticide-free corn. And I found it refreshing how honest and upfront all the vendors were about their products. In contrast to many of the big food companies that peddle their processed foods in grocery stores, these folks had nothing to hide.
A tomato is just a tomato, right? NO! I spotted over twelve different varieties during my visit. One vendor was sampling a tomato that was so juicy that I dripped it all over my pants. Oh, well. It was definitely worth the taste. With fall temperatures already getting below freezing in some parts of Minnesota, these beauties won’t last long, so I grabbed several.
It’s always fun to discover new treasures, and the Mill City Farmers Market had several. Although sour lemon cucumbers and tomatillos have been in my kitchen many times, this was my first time trying a Mexican sour gherkin cucumber. These little guys are the size of a grape tomato but look like a tiny watermelon and pack a sour punch. Mmm, mmm, delicious!
Two more favorites in my family are classic green beans and delicata squash. These organic veggies were just picked yesterday. You just can’t beat this kind of freshness.
I love squashes of all kinds, and the butternut, sweet dumpling, and carnival varieties are on my go-to list in the fall. Butternut squash soup is a personal favorite, and carnival squash makes an easy and delicious side dish. Just split them down the middle and bake with a touch of butter, maple syrup and a grind of fresh pepper.
Beautiful root vegetables were all over the market as well. One vendor was sampling their carrots and they were amazingly sweet and crunchy. Despite wanting to buy some, I passed since I still have plenty of potatoes and carrots leftover from my summer CSA share.
Probably one of my favorite parts of fall is apple picking. I grew up in Florida, and apple picking just wasn’t an option (although we did have some amazing orange, key lime, and lemon trees in our yard). My family hasn’t had a chance to make it out to the orchards yet, so I enjoyed sampling a couple different varieties. It’s hard to beat the crisp, juicy white flesh of macintosh apples, so I picked up a bag. There’s nothing like the perfection of an apple for a great, portable snack.
With October here, ’tis the season for pumpkins and squashes. I loved how this booth not only featured the classic pumpkin, but also shared some great information about varieties of squash you might ordinarily be afraid to try. With my bag already pretty full, I opted for a smaller pie pumpkin. Not only will it add some fall color to our home, but it will make some wonderful pumpkin bread or cookies.
Beyond the traditional fare, The Mill City Farmers Market has some very cool surprises that you don’t find at most farmers markets. This mushroom kit was one of them. Sold by Cherry Tree House Mushrooms, each kit includes an fungi innoculated piece of wood that will grow fresh mushrooms for you right in your backyard. I enjoyed learning all about the process but wasn’t quite up to the adventure that day. Fear not, if you’re not up for growing your own, Cherry Tree House also has fresh and dried mushrooms available for sale.
Wild Idea Buffalo also had a booth at the market. I’ve had a chance to try their products before, and they are delicious—a lot like beef but with a little sweeter, earthier flavor. 100% grass-fed and American Humane Certified, Wild Idea Buffalo roam free on over 100,000 acres in South Dakota, just as nature intended. Lower in fat and cholesterol than boneless skinless chicken, and high in omega-3′s like salmon, Wild Idea Buffalo proves that if you choose to eat meat, there are alternatives out there you can feel good about.
And here’s what I bought (mostly pictured above):
- Delicata squash (for my favorite Summer Tomato recipe—Darya’s Roasted Delicata Squash. It is simply AMAZING!)
- Green Beans
- MacIntosh Apples - Amador Hill Farm at WEI (Women’s Environmental Institute)
- Butternut squash - Amador Hill Farm
- Pumpkin - Nistler Farms
- Corn (not pictured) - Nistler Farms
- Tomatoes, onion, eggplant, and red peppers
What did you find today at the market?