One of our favorite things to do, traveling or not, is to check out local markets. Markets are a great way to familiarize yourself with a new place by trying local produce, sampling prepared foods and interacting with locals. Few other activities can connect you to the community the way a legit market can. We recently found a great one, the Midtown Farmers' Market in Minneapolis, less than a mile from our house and we think its one of the best around. Here's why:
- This is truly a LOCAL market. So often, when we go to different markets we find products that can't be considered local. Bananas, kiwis and coconuts are great but I don't believe they grow well in Minnesota. The Midtown Farmers's Market has only local vendors, many with farms only a few miles away. This gives shoppers the ability to eat seasonally, consuming only the freshest and nutritious foods straight from the farm. Another wonderful aspect of really local food is that many farmers sell the same products. This creates healthy competition and helps keep prices low. Instead of paying a premium price for local produce, you end up paying less than you would at a supermarket. Also, many vendors are certified organic, which is great.
- Accessibility. One of the most important things a market can do to stand out is to make its services available to everyone. The Midtown Farmers' Market prides itself on connecting community residents with local food producers. Back in 2006, they became the first market in the state to accept SNAP-EBT payments. By doing so, they brought healthy, fresh and local products to everyone in the neighborhood. Another way they make it easy for the customer is by accepting credit cards. You may use your credit/debit card to purchase tokens that can be redeemed at any of the vendors. The Midtown Market is open twice a week, once on Saturday from 8am-1pm and on Tuesday from 3pm-7pm. The nighttime hours on Tuesday are great if you cant make it on Saturday or just need to grab something in the middle of the week. Lastly, with plenty of parking, lots of bike racks and the light rail stop less than block away, it is really convenient getting in and out with no hassle.
- The extras. Produce is awesome! I like green, leafy vegetables as much as the next person, but some of the best things at the Midtown Farmers' Market are the things that don't grow from the ground, at least not directly. The Moral Omnivore food truck was there making their delicious Fried Tomato BLTs. And, we had to try some of Tootie's Boiled Peanuts, both regular and cajun flavored. They were so good we bought a bag to share with friends later in the day. And while Samantha had the will power to refrain, I sampled about a half dozen cheeses from just over the border in Wisconsin. There was also a great guitar duo playing jazz music for the crowd. We sat and listened while we shared a farm-fresh egg omelette with garden veggies and a couple carnitas tacos from Taco Taxi. They also offer pasture raised meats, local honey, handmade soap and a wide variety of baked goods that smelled so amazing we didn't trust ourselves enough to even walk up to the table.
The Midtown Farmers Market may not be the largest in the area, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in quality. Even if you don't live in the area, this is a market worth traveling for, especially for the peanuts.
Check out a couple of our global market photos below, and look out for our full market gallery coming this week!