For those of us over 50, who can forget those nostalgic Burma shave signs, so in the tradition of Burma shave, “Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, now’s the time farmers markets do their biz.”
With the blooming of the tulips comes the opening of the farmer’s markets. Farmers markets have once again become the weekly gathering place for friends to meet and find those wonder products grown in our area. The markets often feature products grown naturally or organically, animals that are raised humanely on pasture, handmade farmstead cheese, eggs and poultry from free-range fowls, as well as heirloom produce and heritage breeds of livestock.
Farmers markets allow farmers to pick produce at the peak of flavor, which preserves the nutritional content of the food, and since the locally grown produce does not travel far to get to your table, the environment is enhanced by the respite from fossil fuel emissions. Farmers markets take us back to our heritage; such markets were commonplace before the industrial age. However, they were replaced with supermarkets that sell food that is usually produced and shipped from long distances. Markets are a traditional way of selling agricultural and homemade products. A weekly market is a part of normal life in a village and town squares throughout the world. For the visitor, it is a fascinating way to learn about local culture.
Nearly every town in West Virginia and Virginia holds a farmers market starting in April and running through mid-November. Most markets are held on Saturday morning with several towns holding the market on a Wednesday.
Late spring and summer are perhaps the best time for seasonal cooking because of the range of fresh fruits and vegetables you will find at the markets. Summer fruits and vegetables have the highest water and nutritional content and are quenching and cooling, just what is needed on a sunny day. Instead of slaving over a hot stove, why not seize your chance to create delicious cooling salads, lightly stir-fried vegetables, and picnic food that can be easily made in advance. As a bonus, many markets offer live music entertainment and are dog-friendly…..and don’t forget the occasional free sample.