Fall Farmers’ Market Fun: Exploring, Tasting and Cooking Stew

“Hey.. wanna go to the farmers’ market tomorrow?”

Not.. even.. a.. question. YES!

Why does the farmers’ market seem like a far better way to spend my Saturday morning than a trip to Mall of America, Valleyfair, Target, or Candyland?

It’s a bit more thrilling sitting in the front set of the Wild Thing than walking through rows of vegetables… true, but there is just something about farmers’ markets that one can’t get in artificial, industrial wonderlands.

A trip to the farmers’ market means seeing bright, vibrant colors, meeting people who love their jobs, tasting new foods and spices, seeing the hands that picked your lunch, learning about the vegetables and spices that are actually grown in the fine state, and hearing the sincere thank yous for your patronage.

Oh yeah, and the best parts of shopping at a farmers’ market? Getting organic food for an affordable price, supporting local farmers so they get a livable wage, and being able to smell and taste foods as they’re supposed to taste.

The St. Paul Farmers’ Market is actually one of the largest in the metro area and the one that is the most near and dear to my own heart.  On one rainy fall day, my Sociology of the Global Politics of Food class took a field trip to this very market and I fell in love with slow food and the people who sell it.

As the food basically sells itself, Tristin and I went crazy. As we walked past the beautiful, gigantic flowers and St. Paul Farmers’ Market sign, we immediately came up with a list of things we felt we needed.

Lettuce! -$2.00

Carrots! -$2.00

Onions! -$1.00

Sweet Corn! -$1.00

Celery! $1.00

Potatoes! $3.00

Thyme! Cilantro! Sage! Garlic ~$4.00

Honey sticks! $.50 (to satisfy our sweet tooth) Yum!

What are we going to make with all of these mismatched ingredients?

Stew. Yes. Beef Stew. Okay so we did cheat a bit and got the beef -$7.00 (we only used half) from Cub Foods- highly not recommended- But hey, I’m on a budget.

Probably one of the easiest things to make. Chop everything up, fry the meat, throw in a can of Surly beer and some other random veggies in the fridge, let it roast for about four hours… And you have organic, slow-roasted, hearty set of meals with a different flavor in every bite.

All in all we spent about $18.00 on all of these ingredients grown within 50 miles of us without preservatives (minus the meat). We’ve already have gotten 7 meals out of this and have another container left in addition to some leftover, unused ingredients. W.h.o.a.

Some farmers’ market tips:

1. Go a little hungry so you can sample many of the vendors’ free stuff! You will be able to fill up on bread, salsa, jellies, hummus and apples!

2. Bring reusable bags! Then you can be almost entirely eco-friendly- well that is if you don’t drive.

3. Bring cash! Vendors don’t take your debit or credit card yo!

4. If you do drive- there is free parking at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market. Check the map here.

5. Go on a horse carriage ride around Mears Park!

6. Find a farmers’ market near you here!