I am addicted to farmer's markets. One of the things I love about Portland is that I can go to a farmer's market almost any day that I want to, at least when it isn't winter. Each has its own personality: the one on Saturday mornings at PSU is a gigantic mall spanning an entire college quad, the Lents International Farmers Market is a feisty little market in a questionable neighborhood near my own, the one off Hawthorne on Thursday afternoons is a great place to stop for lunch and unwise shopping while hungry, the one at People's Co-Op on Wednesday afternoons is a year-round hippie haven.
It's not just that the produce tastes better from farmer's markets, though it does. It's not just that it's free of poisons (whether it signs onto the government's "organic certification" scam or not), though it is. The main thing I love about farmer's markets is the shared experience, a whole community of people who care about what we put into our mouths, the farmers who grow it with passion and the volunteers who promote it and the buyers who prepare it for flavor and health and good old fashioned love of food.
Today I found a new farmer's market I hadn't heard about until this week. The Hawthorne Urban Farmer's Market is a new reason I love Portland. We stopped by this afternoon and found a tiny market selling goat-milk soaps, homemade makeup, and of course, local produce. But this produce is as local as it gets - these farmers all ply their trade from right here in southeast Portland. It was in this article from the Portland Mercury where I first heard of this market, and also of the Sellwood Garden Club, who farms urban lawns and sells the produce to our finest restaurants (including Lauro, where Keith and I celebrate nearly every deserving occasion). At the HUFM, booths are free, so the prices are cheap (as in, GM corn cheap) and barter is a completely acceptable form of payment. People buy veggies with cash, beer, other veggies, whatever they have. We tend to go to the Lents Market on Sunday mornings since it's near our home and we like to support a small local urban market, but I think our routine is going to expand Sunday into a full-on Market Day, with Lents in the morning and HUFM in the afternoon.
Dinner tonight is worthy of farmer's market day - salad of some unusual speckled lettuce, lemon cucumber, blood carrot, my own mini-tomatoes, and piave cheese in a homemade cherry-balsamic vinaigrette, and a mix of roasted tomatillos, kohlrabi, sweet onion, garlic, and rosemary, all from my garden, and tiny eggplants from the Sellwood Garden Club. We're washing it down at the moment with beer from Hopworks Urban Brewery, a lovely stout made with Stumptown Roasters' locally-roasted espresso, and feeling very Portland. G-d, but life is good here.