29 March 2010

farmers in the windy city

Long silence I know - I have been travelling but more on that later. I'm posting from The Windy City on this fine Sunday afternoon. Today I decided to do an off-beat thing and check out the local Winter Farmer's Market. This is the first farmer's market that I have been to in America and it was a good experience. Being indoors, it wasn't massive and the perfect size so you don't get overwhelmed. Upon entering you are immediately assaulted with delicious smells of cinnamon and herbs. I later followed my nose to the smell of cinnamon and found a farmer selling organic apple cider donuts and promptly gave in.

The string band that was playing provided a lively, country feel to the proceedings. I was surprised at the amount of organic produce on offer - apples, mushrooms, honey, herbs etc. A few of the farmers I spoke to were very upfront with the fact that they did not want to eat chemically treated, processed food and were very concerned about human, animal and environmental well-being. Many of the produce were also converted into home-made pickle, jam, pasta, salsa, bread etc - all laden with organic, natural goodness without of a trace of chemicals in sight.

I also met a free range meat farmer who had grass-fed beef on offer - much healthier than the grain-fed, hormone-pumped options found in regular supermarkets. He also had free range chicken and pork on offer. There was another farmer with free range eggs and yogurt, milk, ice-cream on offer. There were plenty of food samples to go around as well as things like organic tea and bread which you could buy. One of the couples that I spoke to were based outside the city and kept bees. In addition to harvesting their own honey, they also made products from bee-wax like lip balm, soap etc. Another farmer was selling fresh herbs like basil, rosemary, sage etc - I resisted the temptation to buy it all and reined myself enough to only walk away with a heavenly smelling pot of basil.

In a country full of super-processed, chemical laden food with a penchant for over-eating and obesity; a farmer's market in a small testament that America is finally learning to eat right. I have noticed this time around that there are a lot more organic produce on super-markets shelves, better labeling and healthier food choices. The rest I believe, will follow - hopefully soon.

Photo: Akhila Vijayaraghavan ©


Ramesh said...

Interesting post. Never been to a produce market in the US; but been to a couple in the UK and they do make it a nice place to visit.

Another angle to debate is the mechanised way animals are raised for slaughter. It seems inhuman to subject them to the indignities of being raised that way - after all their life deserves some consideration even if they are reared for the dinner table. I am myself a vegetarian, but respect other people's choice of food. But to "farm" animals in the way mass producing places do, seems positively inhuman.

Akhila Vijayaraghavan said...

Apologies for the late response. I really like visiting farmers markets, anywhere.

I do agree with your take on inhumane methods of raising animals for slaughter. If you have to eat meat, then eating free-range, organic is much better for the environment and your own health.