let’s go to the farmer’s market!

"We are stardust. We are golden. We are caught in the devil’s bargain. And we got to get ourselves back to the garden." ~ from "Woodstock," by Joni Mitchell.

Happy Monday! Hope you had a groovy weekend and treated yourself to a little 60’s music to celebrate Woodstock. Today we move from Max Yasgur’s farm to the farmers’ market (how’s that for a cool segue?).

Since we don’t have our own vegetable garden, farmers’ markets are a real godsend during the summer. While some locally grown, seasonal produce is available in supermarkets, you can’t beat shopping en plein air, swapping stories with the vendors, discovering new fruits and veggies, and picking up recipes and tips about preparing them in a colorful, family friendly atmosphere — that may or may not include live music, the heavenly smell of barbecue, and the happy splashing of kids in water jets.

I like supporting small farmers. I like knowing where my food comes from. I like not having to dodge stressed-out people racing their shopping carts up and down grocery store aisles like there’s no tomorrow. And it’s the best place for people watching. You know the old adage, "you are what you eat." Well, I love spying on taking note of what other people are buying. Gruff expressions melt away at the sight of an overflowing peach bin. Go ahead, snap a green bean in half and taste it. Marvel at the long, curly cucumbers. Inhale the sun-ripened scent of a freshly-picked tomato, and renew your commitment to a healthier diet.

Recently, I learned about the newest arrival to the farmers’ market scene in Northern Virginia, Smart Markets, Inc., which has a market every Tuesday afternoon at Fairfax Corner, only ten minutes from home. 

On the day I went, they were featuring a cooking demonstration and booksigning with Dr. Preston Maring, associate physician-in-chief at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, California. He’s a crusader for local, healthy food, a national advocate for the small family farm, and co-author of the Introduction for EatingWell® in Season: The Farmers’ Market Cookbook (Countryman Press, 2009). 

EatingWell® in Season, by Jessie Price and the Editors of EatingWell, includes a Foreword by Nell Newman.

Six years ago, he founded the first hospital-based farmers’ market in the country, thinking that selling locally grown, fresh food right in the parking lot was the perfect prescription for preventative care. Today, there are 30 such farmers’ markets in four states and D.C., and local produce is now part of in-patient care at 19 hospitals. He’s a doc who likes to cook! He’s been known to write prescriptions for arugula salad, and circulates recipes inspired by all his wanderings through farmers’ markets across the country, to thousands of co-workers and patients every week.

It was fun watching how Dr. Maring and his wife got the kids involved. They chopped tomatoes with kid-friendly plastic knives for a chilled tomato soup with cilantro-yogurt swirl. "This is our future," he said, pointing to his little sous chefs. It’s never too early to educate kids about healthy eating and making them active participants in selecting and preparing food. After wiping tomato juice from his hands, Dr. Maring happily signed my book.

How can you not love a doctor who wears a carrot necktie?

In addition to the fruits and veggies, there was wine from a local vintner, barbecue, gluten-free baked goods, and homemade bread.


I’m anxious to try some of the recipes in the Summer Section of my new cookbook, which contains 150 recipes for everything from soup to salads to main dishes to desserts for all four seasons, cooking and canning tips, nutritional information and farmer profiles. And, I can’t wait to go back to the market, because now they have children’s story times. It’ll be quite interesting to see just what books they’ll be reading, don’t you think?

Here are five of America’s Best Farmers’ Markets, according to a poll taken by readers of EatingWell Magazine and eatingwell.com:

♥ Dane County Farmers’ Market, Madison, Wisconsin/dcfm.org
♥ Lincoln Square Greenmarket, New York, New York/cenyc.org
♥ Portland Farmers’ Market, Portland, Oregon/
♥ Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, San Francisco, CA/cuesa.org
♥ Sunset Valley Farmers’ Market, Sunset Valley, Texas/

Any of these near you?


**August is National Peach Month. Check out these peachy recipes at the EatingWell website.

Happy and Healthy Eating!

17 thoughts on “let’s go to the farmer’s market!

  1. I’ll have to try the Fairfax market some time. We went to the Old Town Alexandria one on Saturday—and got lots of peaches. (So thanks for the recipe link!) Also, tomatoes, basil and smoked mozzarella to make tomato stacks for dinner. Yum.


  2. I wish I had a Farmer’s Market where I am. Or rather, there IS one, but not anywhere near the directions I normally go, and it’s on a weekday, and so I just don’t get there. I miss the one at Courthouse when I lived in VA and could walk there, and my mother has one conveniently located to her home, too. My aunt and uncle are lucky enough to have a twice-weekly market just two blocks from them!


  3. The Fairfax one apparently moved from the center court area to the corner of Monument Drive and Government Center Parkway. Still very convenient, though!


  4. I went to GWU for grad school; I lived one year near campus, in Foggy Bottom, then spent the rest of my time (another 1.5 yrs) about halfway between the Roslyn and Courthouse stations (slightly closer to Roslyn). 🙂


  5. Hospital-based farmers’ markets, local produce as part of in-patient care, and children’s story time at your farmers’ market sounds wonderful!

    Happy Peach Month, Jama. :o)

    Into the Wardrobe

    P.S. Now I’m hungry again….


  6. Tanita Says 🙂

    People from the West Coast tend to think that they live in Paradise and nowhere else is beautiful. I stand corrected and humbled. What a gorgeous farmer’s market. Lovely, beautiful fruit and veg. There are farmer’s markets here in the city, but they’re not quite the same — more like street faires with lots of non-produce items. I don’t know where to find the real ones that don’t have touristy stuff.

    This is lovely!


  7. Okay, this could be a picture book. It’s just lovely. There are days when I gain weight just reading your posts! Now I’m hungry and must go make something fresh and delicious.


  8. Re: Tanita Says 🙂

    One feels healthier just looking at everything. I also like the cultural diversity — both vendors and customers, and the fact that I saw people of all ages — seniors enjoying the atmosphere, and kids having lots of fun.


  9. Actually, it was really hot and humid (not my favorite kind of weather), but the good vibes made up for it. You’re right about it being a “feel good” experience. Supermarkets can be very impersonal. Here, the producer is on the other side of the table. I think the human connection, field to table connection, is largely missing in our food experiences, and needs to be restored.:)


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