The Foodie Tot is not the only one excited about the opportunity to profess his love for the markets during National Farmers Market Week. There are not one but two separate online contests underway asking voters to chose their favorite farmers market. To me, that’s like asking a parent to name their favorite child. Sure, there are markets I adore (see: Oregon travelogues ‘08 and ‘09) that truly have it all — wide array of organic-certified products, cooking demos, kid-friendly activities, transparent management and communication — but the obligation of eating locally requires one to support the markets in your neighborhood, and there are things we love about each of them besides the simple matter of proximity and convenience. There are two farmers markets here in Alexandria that are between our house and the nearest grocery stores, so it is even harder to justify passing up the market in favor of flavorless supermarket produce. We love Bigg Riggs’ array of apples and peaches, Kuhn’s sweet berries and plums, Three Way Farm’s luscious melons, Smith Meadows’ grass-fed beef and handmade pastas, Tom’s cave-aged cheddar, Grace’s pumpkin loaf, and many more products and producers from across the region.
The Farmers Market Coalition, who notes that the number of farmers markets in the U.S. has increased by 170% in the past 10 years, recently asked “Why do you love your farmers market?” My response: “Because my son knows his cheesemaker, his apple growers, and his meat producers by name.”
I’ve written before about the many lessons kids can learn by shopping at the market, but the most important is an understanding and appreciation of where their food comes from. We certainly don’t have time to go to the farm every week, and together my son and I can’t even manage to keep an herb pot alive, so we will drag ourselves out rain or shine to support the farmers who wake up before dawn, after a hard week of manual labor, to truck their wares into town.
I do support any effort that makes people more aware of their neighborhood farmers markets, so go to the Care2/LocalHarvest contest (where the winning market receives $5,000) and the American Farmland Trust contest (winning markets get free No Farms No Food tote bags) to vote for your favorite markets, if you can choose just one. Of course you can share the love and vote for different markets in each, if you like. (The Care2 poll is open until Sept. 17, but the AFT contest ends at midnight this Saturday, August 8, so vote today!)
Don’t Forget! Submit a photo of your tot(s) at the market to the Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets Flickr pool during the week (August 2-9) and you’ll have a chance to win a kid-sized reusable market tote filled with foodie goodies. For an extra entry into the drawing, blog about your local farmers market with a link back to this post &/or retweet a link to the “Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets” contest. More bonus points for sharing why you love your farmers market.
P.S. Today’s market stop was the Upper King Street Market, for ground buffalo meat from Cibola (burgers coming up soon), Shlagel raspberries, Bigg Riggs peaches, Tom’s yogurt, and a muffin and fresh-squeezed orange juice (er, not exactly local) for an afternoon snack.
And it’s Real Food Wednesday, so head over to the round up at Kelly the Kitchen Kop for more real, local food ideas and inspiration.