I’m eating a savory piece of cheesy foccaccia right now that I purchased at Iggy’s Bread stand at the Union Square farmers market in Somerville this morning.
I love the market in Union Square. It features food from several different farms and usually includes a live band (much better than the muzak or other music piped in at supermarkets).
Sweet, locally-grown plums and nectarines bought there are mingling with locally-grown tomatoes I purchased at the Malden farmers market earlier this week in a fruit bowl on my dining room table. And the freshest and spiciest arugula is sharing a shelf in my fridge with succulent pea tendrils, just waiting to be blended into a crisp salad to accompany a barbecue dinner tonight.
Produce tastes better when allowed to ripen on the vine; when not tampered with with chemicals that are often added to ensure they won’t spoil when being transported across the country or imported from other countries. And now is the season to take advantage of all this local glory.
Farmers markets in Massachusetts are held every day at this time of year. To find one near you check out this website. It features a handy tool that allows you to type in your zip code. You can also search by day of the week.
Just be careful. At some farmers markets produce grown out of state is sometimes mixed in with produce grown locally. The whole reason to visit a farmers market is to get the taste of locally grown. That other stuff doesn’t taste as good and you can get it a lot cheaper at the supermarket.
But the out-of-state stuff is easy to spot: bananas and other exotic fruits and vegetables are not grown locally. Strawberrries are grown locally but some markets supplement with out-of-state varieties. If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask. The people who man the stands are usually very nice and eager to help and explain all the goodness that comes with locally grown produce.
I didn’t spot any out-of-state produce at the Union Square market today. But a Melrose farmers market held earlier in the week was selling “Georgia” peaches and strawberries from out of state.
At a farmers market in Malden, I spotted bananas but everything else was grown on a farm in North Andover, I was told. The strawberries I bought there were out of this world: they weren’t the giant, red ones that entice you at the supermarket but they had a giant strawberry taste that made me think I had never tasted a real strawberry before.
I ate the whole pint quickly. I wish I had bought more.