Spring is in the Airâ€¦and at the Farmers’ Market!
It’s the tail end of winter in Minnesota, and just like so many other Minneapolites who are going stir(and ice)-crazy, I’m looking forward to Spring. The first green blades of grass, trading heavy coats and wool hats for hoodies and baseball caps, and last but certainly not least, the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market. The Farmer’s Market is a green girl’s dream and the perfect excuse for an afternoon in the sun.
Because I like torturing myself by dreaming of warm weather with a blizzard – literally, at this very moment – blowing outside my window, I figured it was as good a time as any to look up green shopping and restaurants with a local/sustainable bent (what’s more “spring” than local asparagus in your quiche?) in other places around the country.
We’re lucky enough to live in a time that almost no matter where you live or travel, there are options for living and vacationing in sustainable way, and have fun doing it to boot. The ironic thing is that most of the newly emerging places to go green shopping go back to the roots of local farming and production.
There are a ton of options in nearly every city, and while it can be an adventure hopping from farmer’s market to farmer’s market, there aren’t enough weekends in a warm season to weed the awesome from the mediocre. To feed my spring fever, I took a look at different markets and shops in a few major cities, and found the most bragged about in each city so you can get your green on no matter how far from your own familiar eco-friendly neighborhood spots. Get your walking shoes and canvas shopping bags ready…
Pike Place Market is the obvious choice as far as markets go, but for good reason. There are a number of not only fresh organic produce stands, but specialty foods, handicrafts, homemade gifts, and eateries that use local and organic produce and meats. And, let’s face it – it’s on great real estate right on the water, and is one of the best places possible for people-watching.
Mighty O Donuts are organic, and vegan to boot if you’re looking to reduce your carbon-producing meat and dairy intake. Local reviews on citysearch.com give the shop high marks for both taste and the sustainability bent. And if you’re worried about growing a donut around your midsection, take a little comfort in the fact that they are.
eco-green Living is a boutique and shop that offers organic, sustainable, and fair trade products for your home and you. Their website also keeps up on local green news and the store hosts events and workshops on weekend afternoons. The store has been featured in a number of really trustworthy green publications, and prides itself on Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market (freshfarmmarket.org runs 8 farmer’s markets in the Chesapeake Bay area) is a true farmer’s market, with over hundred producers from the area offering their fruits and wares. You can make a day out of your visit by watching a “Chef at Market” cooking demonstrations and flower arranging workshops. There are also fun but educational workshops for kids on sustainability and food preservation.
Minneapolis Farmer’s Market has spread since its 1878 start to an overflow site a few miles from the location on the edge of downtown. With over 240 produce, floral, and specialty food vendors, it’s a great place to spend an afternoon, or grab a picnic lunch to enjoy in the Walker Sculpture Garden just a few minutes away from the original market.
Tao Natural Foods in Uptown has been in business for over 40 years, serving the more “granola” section of Minneapolis. It features organic tinctures, teas, and herbal supplements and remedies. In the front, there’s a diner counter and a few scattered tables where you can get organic and local food made to order. They have a “Healthy Happy Hour” every day where you can get a discount on their tasty but usually expensive smoothie drinks. Try the
Green City Market was named by USA Today as one of the top 10 farmer’s markets in the country. It’s a prime place to find produce to cook, crafts to collect, and workshops to attend on a sunny afternoon. The 50 or so producers are all local and sustainable or organic, and the market leans toward featuring small family farms. Lastly, it’s frequented by local chefs (both as patrons and speakers or demonstrators) so you might catch a glimpse of a Chicago culinary celebrity.
Myopic Used Books is one of Chi-town’s oldest used bookstores. Reviews on SustainLane.com point to it as a great place to find rare books, or even a more common title without encouraging the printing presses. It’s open until 2am with both a music and poetry series, and there’s a coffee shop to relax and take in the performances.
The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market is put on twice a week with different producers each time. They’re serious about their certified local/organic/sustainable label, and keep foods and flowers that are prepared/grown off of a certified site in a separate section of the market. And, if you get tired buying, sampling, and taking in this top sustainable city’s green organizations’ handiwork, there’s even a Veggie Valet, which will let you drop off your finds to pick up later.
Underdog Hot Dogs features organic regular, vegetarian, and vegan hot dogs. Reviewers on Zagat.com and citysearch.com rave about the tater-tots as well. Absolutely everything is organic – condiments, beverages, you name it. It’s a block away from Golden Gate Park, so it’s a prime choice for a quick pick me up after a bike ride or something to take to a picnic table. Of course, I’m sharing all of this based on research, and could only research so many cities without making this entirely too long. I picked cities I feel have some great sustainability action going on, and are sizable enough to explore a bit. If you have suggestions for places to go in your own city or another favorite city, leave a comment! Next up – how do you get to all these places without leaving Mother Nature choking on your airplane fumes? Stay tuned for the next installment to find out!
– Avneet Singh