Bruce Bradley is a consultant, author, blogger and lifelong foodie from Minneapolis, Minnesota. After working for over 15 years as a marketer for several of the world’s largest food companies, Bruce finally awakened to “the green side of life” and is an avid supporter of the eat local, real food movement. He now offers his unique insider’s perspective on processed foods via his blog and a soon-to-be-released novel, FAT PROFITS. To learn more about Bruce Bradley you can subscribe to his blog, follow him on Twitter @authorbruce or check him out on Facebook.
Farmers Market Update: Minneapolis, Minnesota
by Bruce Bradley
The Minneapolis Farmers Market has been a long-standing fixture of the Twin Cities fresh produce scene. Its current Lyndale Market location opened in 1937, but its roots trace back to a fruit and vegetable market established in 1876. Located on the outskirts of downtown, the Minneapolis Farmers Market is held outdoors under three huge red sheds and stakes claim to the title “Largest Open Air Market in the Upper Midwest.”
Run by the Central Minnesota Vegetable Growers Association, the farmers market is open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., 7 days a week from May to December. On Thursdays, a special farmers market is held downtown along Nicollet Mall, a place made famous by Mary Tyler Moore’s hat toss in the opening credits of her 1970′s sitcom.
I decided to visit the farmers market downtown this week. It was a beautiful, sunny Indian Summer day in Minneapolis. Fall is at its peak here, so the red, orange, and yellow trees lining the streets created a wonderful backdrop to my shopping adventure.
Although many summer vegetables like tomatoes, green beans, and corn were still plentiful, fall vegetables have taken center stage. Brussel sprout stalks and squashes were available at many vendors and a number of local Apple Orchards were showing off their amazing crop.
During the summer my CSA keeps me pretty well stocked in vegetables. Although I love the CSA experience, what I miss about the farmers market is getting to choose exactly what I’m going to buy. That said, the hardest part of shopping at the farmers market is wanting to take home a little bit of everything and this week was no exception. Take a look at these squash! I love squash, especially all the fall varieties. Although these beautiful Carnival Squashes were calling my name, after reading Summer Tomato’s recipe for Delicata Squash, I knew delicata was on the top of my shopping list.
If you love food and you haven’t gone to your local farmers market, you’re really missing out. It’s a great place to explore different varieties of vegetables that you just can’t find at your local grocery store, like these white radishes …
and these Indian eggplant …
Spinach is one of my personal favorites, and these were so green and fresh. I love making spinach salad, sautéed spinach, or … some creamy spinach soup would be especially perfect on a cool fall day. The vendor assured me she would have some more spinach this weekend, so I passed on it for now. But believe me, it was tough call.
Raspberries are my son’s favorite, and I think the best varieties ripen in the fall. Not only are they more flavorful, but they’re also a little bit sweeter than the ones that are available during the summer. These will be perfect for dessert or breakfast in the morning, so they’re a definite addition to my bag.
Variety is the spice of life, and it’s always fun to check out things you’ve never seen before. Seed heads from sunflowers were new to me this trip. Although I love experimenting, my bag was already getting pretty full, so I passed on these beauties for now.
I also was tempted by these red moon beans. Their rich purple color was very alluring, but the vendor didn’t understand English so I couldn’t learn anything about them. I Googled them when I got home, but unfortunately I still couldn’t find anything about them. Does anybody know about this variety of bean? I’d love to learn more about them so please share what you know in the comments.
Fresh smells are one of my favorite parts of shopping at farmers markets. I was standing a few stalls down wind from this huge bunch of dill weed and it caught my nose’s immediate attention. Yum!
Next to the dill was a colorful array of chili peppers, tomatoes, beets, and potatoes. I LOVE beets, so they were an easy choice for me to add to my bag.
When you read Summer Tomato’s Farmers Market updates, you learn how each area of the country (and world) has their own specialties, so I thought I’d feature a couple items that I think are a little more unique to the Upper Midwest:
Pickles are a local favorite in Minnesota. Everyone seems to have their own secret recipe, and it’s something I’d like to try my hand at making sometime. The pickle bar at the farmers market is a great place to figure out exactly what your favorite type of pickle is and buy it. Bread and butter pickles are hands down my top choice.
Two other local foods from our neighbor to the east, Wisconsin, are cheese and cranberries. I had never heard of “cheese curds” until I moved to Minnesota. Although I don’t buy them very often, they’re amazing especially when fresh. These curds were made yesterday from rBGH free milk, so I couldn’t resist them. And as any Wisconsin native will tell you, the only way to know if your cheese curds are fresh is to taste them. If they squeak between your teeth, they’re fresh, and these were squeakingly delicious.
Now while everyone knows cheese is a huge Wisconsin favorite, not many people know that Wisconsin is the country’s largest producer of cranberries. I didn’t pick up any of these plump berries this week, but I made a mental note to get them in a couple weeks. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and there’s nothing better than a fresh cranberry relish.
What I bought (pictured above):
- Delicata squash (I’m going back for more. I just made Darya’s Delicata Squash recipe and it was AMAZING!)
- Butternut Squash
- Ambercup Squash
- Green Beans
- Cheese Curds - Ellsworth Creamery
- Raspberries (Unfortunately they got a little crushed. Maybe I should order one of Darya’s new Mercado bags.)