Sunday, December 28, 2008

And the Winner Is....

After a multitude of bicycle-bound adventures around the StL metro, I've decided on my winner for best farmers' market of 2008. The pool was rather small- I visited the Maplewood market, the Tower Grove market, the Clayton market, Delmar market, the Soulard market, and Bon Appetit's very own mini-market which made its debut this fall. Of these places, two don't qualify as farmers' markets- at the Delmar and Soulard markets, the produce is simply sold by a smaller vendor. However, it's still the same produce that you'll find at Schnucks or Shop n' Save. I also did not consider the North City market, mainly becuase I never visited it, but also because I believe that that produce is aimed at lower-income citizens. I didn't feel like I am the desired clientele at that market, and thus didn't make it a point to visit it.

That leaves us with three full-blown markets: Clayton, Tower Grove, and Maplewood. They have very distinct differences: the weekly fee for a vendor at the Clayton market is around $150, the most expensive out of all of the StL markets. Tower Grove features the largest number of vendors and live music. In addition, the Maplewood market is open every Wednesday, whereas the others are open on Saturdays.

In the end, I had the best experiences at Maplewood! It had a beautiful combination of organic produce vendors selling at reasonable prices and local vendors with spreads, sauces, and chocolate. Attending Maplewood was great- I talked with vendors, traded old Oberweiss jugs for reduced-priced produce, and filled up on scrumptious Black Bear delights. It's real close to campus- a 15 minute bike ride at most- and doesn't require you to wake up real early to attend- it's open from 4-7pm on Wednesdays during the warm months. Make it a point to visit Maplewood. You'll find a wonderful collection of people who are interested in what they're eating and how it impacts their world. Avoid the hype and greenwashing that plagues most current "sustainable alternatives." Really, check it out, and I'll go with you.

If you're hungry, and you're NOT waiting until April, check out one of St. Louis's winter farmers' markets. The Tower Grove market relocates to the St. John Episcopal Church at 3664 Arsenal, just across the street from Tower Grove Park. It's open the 2nd Saturday of every month from 9am to 1pm. Maplewood has its own farmers' market during the winter. The schedule is more intermittent, but the first date in 2009 is January 31st, 2009, open for the same times. For a schedule, see here.

Eat locally, please. In fact, let's do it together


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