Yes, it’s really happening. Spring is now official with the season opening of the St. Paul and Minneapolis outdoor farmers markets.
And, this year, I have thoroughly prepared: I acquired a tote bag, broke out the comfy shoes, and bought an absurd amount of sunscreen so I don’t burst into flames since, courtesy of our long and lovely winter, I haven’t felt the sun in what feels like over a year.
The farmers market is a perfect outing for family or friends, or a romantic stroll with your significant other. Or you can go solo: Whether you’re planning to become a master chef, buying a slew of veggies to stock your larder, or just perusing and simply happy to be outdoors, there is a farmers market to be found close by. You can find the perfect market by heading to the Minnesota Grown website, but if you’re near the Twin Cities your best option will always be to visit the main Minneapolis and St. Paul locations.
Both the Minneapolis Lyndale Farmers Market and the downtown St. Paul Farmers Market opened this past Saturday on April, 28th. With over 150 vendors at the Minneapolis market and delicious eats like Golden’s Bagel Stand and Chef Earl’s BBQ at the St. Paul market, you’ll be supporting local businesses, locally grown food, and of course, satiating your appetite.
Pro Tip: Be sure to wander around to all the vendors and chat with them. You’ll not only learn about where the food came from and how it was grown (organic, free-range, etc.), but some vendors will pass out free samples for you to try. Yeah, I may have walked by the cheese and salsa vendors several times…
But if you’re ready to expand beyond taste-testing free samples, the farmers market is the perfect place to experiment with new foods and recipes. Here are the foods to look for that are currently in season during the early Minnesota spring months of April and May:
Dark Leafy Greens
Granted, I’m still working out how to make chard and kale taste delicious on a consistent basis, but these particular veggies are definitely worth the purchase. The in-season vegetables – dark leafy greens, dandelions greens, and especially sprouts – do wonders for detoxifying your system; just as you would give your house a spring cleaning when the season changes, the farmers market supplies you with all the fresh and seasonal produce for a good internal spring cleanse.
The farmers markets are always buzzing on the weekends with large crowds, more vendors, and local music. You will find a better variety of produce and vendor selections on Saturdays and Sundays, but if you’d rather avoid the hustle and bustle, head out to the markets early in the morning or during the weekdays to skip the crowds and get first pick on the fresh produce. And if you go before the rush, you may also get the chance to chat in depth with vendors for advice on how to cook or prepare certain veggies you’re less familiar with.
Start your spring off right (we’ve earned it): Grab your tote bag, fill it with fresh produce and artisan goods, and enjoy the tasty, local products from one of the dozens of farmers markets around town.