With National Farmers Market Week upon us and farmers’ markets gearing up to peddle the last of the summer garden bounty, nearly every food and cooking magazine has shared recipes or provided tips over the last couple of months on how to get the freshest tastes and most delicious dishes from the season’s fruits and vegetables.
That’s not a bad thing, but most magazines failed to capture or convey the old-fashioned, earthy mystique of going to market (roadside stand or open-air bazaar, not mega-grocery) or even the importance of using down-the-road produce. Food–from preparation to consumption–is a universal language, the edible tie that binds, which was not lost on recent issues of Cooking Light or Saveur magazines.
For many restaurants, and families, going green has become going local for food, according to an August 2010 Cooking Light magazine article titled “America’s Summer Bounty.” So the rise in markets–true markets (not just the super ones)–has been attributed to the rising number of conscientious chefs and cost-conscious shoppers, courtesy of the struggling economy. Even in the recession, the USDA says, the number of farmers’ markets nationwide grew by 13 percent.
The Cooking Light article put a face on this trend, highlighting five chefs around the country who seek out the best local produce to serve on their tables, as well as their markets of choice. That’s not to say these culinary masters never go the store-bought route, but expect to see their menus flavored by–and change with–what’s in season. Best of all, it’s reassuring to know that the food on your plate could be as local as the restaurant’s ZIP code.
If you’ve wondered whether your local market is any different from those around the world, look to Saveur magazine‘s June/July issue. Following its expectedly well-traveled route, Saveur explored local markets on a global scale from cover to cover.
The “Market Issue” travels to 148 destinations from New England fish markets to the best bazaars in Paris and Asia to the must-sees around the world. Included are everything from the largest in Ethiopia with more than 13,000 vendors to one in Brazil that peddles some of the rarest foods in the world (like 220-pound Amazonian catfish and fresh acai berries).
But wait, there’s more. The 138-page Saveur issue also covers the art of displaying food, 12 memorable market meals, the best market reads and cookbooks among its all-market content. I’m still living vicariously through its articles.
Still, despite the exotic fare or far-away locales, Saveur’s overarching message is that as much as markets are different, they are the same. From Minnesota to Madagascar, markets draw in people who are simply buying food to prepare and eat, which suddenly makes these otherworldly farm stands seem not so distant, but no less fascinating.