Made my weekly foraging trip to the farmers market during my break out, er, lunch break. The threatened rain has not yet materialized, thankfully, so it was another typically muggy summer Washington afternoon. Of course, the farmers took it in stride, and so did I, after I was fortified with my provisions of cherries, apricots, and nectarines from Terrapin Station Herb Farm (its delectable tiny plums are gone for the season, and this was the final week for the cherries), and red onion and basil from Wheatland Vegetable Farms. Wheatland's high-quality basil lasts a bit longer than many others I've tried, and is extremely fragrant and healthy. I'll probably employ the basil in a vaguely Thai style dish sometime this weekend. Cooking with that stuff is better aromatherapy than lighting a candle any day!
I'm glad I frequent a real farmers market, on which is producer only (meaning, no vendors selling products that they did not grow nor make), because, unfortunately, not all outdoor markets which call themselves 'farmers markets' are producer only. (Horrors!)
To see if a farmers market passes the sniff test--is a true, producer-only market--look for the following clues as you meander about the stalls:
* There should be signs and/or banners around the stand, with the name of the farm clearly stated.
* Literature about the farm (just a flyer will do), with its name and location, in addition to other information.
* A seller should be able to answer general questions about how the food was produced, as well as inquiries as to which foods to anticipate in the upcoming weeks. After all, shouldn't a producer know her own product?
* As a true farmers market's fresh products are seasonal, you should not see, say, grapes in the middle of the summer, if you shop at a farmers market in one of the mid-Atlantic states.
Well, I've made myself hungry, so I'd better rip into a few cherries, or else...