There are may aspects of the Minneapolis farmer's market that I enjoy. The variety, of course. Stall after stall of fresh sweet corn, juicy heirloom tomatoes, and all manner and shades of greens and herbs. My first experience in an American farmers market was not here but in St Joseph, Minnesota where I attended college. A little background: this was a small college town with a couple bars, couple churches, one coffee shop and one grocery so you can guess that the options for fresh produce were minimal. Until summer came around and the farmers came out. It was as though I was tasting fresh food again for the first time. The Minneapolis version is like that for me but on a much larger scale. There is always something new and interesting to try and, consequently, some new inspiration. Last weekend, it was yellow string beans. (See recipe below for Yellow Bean Coconut Soup.)
Oddly enough, it is the size of the market that also attracts me. The sheer volume of people who throng the Lyndale location is unlike much of the city during the rest of the year, with the exception of the State Fair. Saturday morning crowds turn that part of town into a scene more characteristic to uber metropolises like New York City and Los Angeles. Maybe it's the fact that for most of the year nothing comes close to the the noise and outdoor energy that I just savor the congestion while it's here. Or the the notion that everyone there, at that one moment, is connected by the same purpose: searching our wholesome food, for themselves or to feed their families.
There are many more reasons we should try to eat locally, especially during the summer when it's more convenient. My feeling is that, more than anything, it bridges the gap between producers and consumers by allowing for direct contact between the two. These farmers bring high quality, wholesome, fresh foods to an area or population that otherwise would have had to pay more than almost twice the price in conventional grocery stores. Of course for many people, including myself, it is not always convenient to shop locally but when there's all of that fresh food and endless variety just a quick three and a half miles away, I just can't help myself.