Mom goes to the farmer's marketMom goes to the farmer's market

Every year I say I’m going to go to the Farmer’s Market more frequently and every year I fail to do so, but I’ve finally been convinced by a friend who is a high muckety-muck in the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture that supporting local farmers is better than buying organic food at Whole Foods, even if they don’t all farm organically.

Today I made my first trip to the East Liberty location of the city farmers markets and noticed that there are more organic farmers selling their wares there than in previous years, and that they were getting a lot of customers, too, of the aging baby boomer variety, (I know, I know, I am one, too, but why do the women have their hair cut like men and the men have those silly ponytails?). Unfortunately I wasn’t really thinking about posting while I was there and I didn’t take notes or write down the names of all the purveyors from whom I bought goods, so this entry will be a little sketchy. The market was a bit sparse in terms of vendors, but I guess that’s because it’s so early in the season and we’ll see more farmers setting up tables as the summer progresses. In fact, I think all the folks there today were claiming to be “organic” except one, and I avoided his tables because he seemed to have too many vegetables that I thought couldn’t possibly be local (beets?, and I think I saw tomatoes!). I do wish these organic folks would get their acts together in terms of business—are the two things incompatible? A couple of them lost my business today because they were too busy talking to their crunchy friends to take my money.

Another vow I made to myself this year is that in addition to patronizing the organic farm stands as much as possible, I’m going to try at least one new item every time I go to the market, something I don’t usually buy. Today I bought some green garlic from a ponytailed dude; it looks pretty much like scallions—Alice Waters talks about it a lot in Chez Panisse Vegetables. In addition, I bought 2 bunches of young Swiss chard (he claimed he picked it today) and braised it along with the garlic for our supper tonight. Some people, including Alice Waters, seem to like their chard lightly sauteed, while others like theirs braised low and slow until it is very tender and I am one of those. First I cooked the green garlic (sliced thinly, tops and all) with some red pepper flakes in olive oil until translucent, then added the washed and chopped chard, folding to coat with the oil. I salted and peppered it, added a bit of chicken stock, then simmered over low heat, gently stirring, for about 30 minutes, until tender.

With the greens we had some homemade pierogies I also bought at the market from an outfit called Gosia’s Pierogies, from Latrobe, Pa. I got some stuffed with potato and cheese, and some stuffed with cabbage, and boy, were they good! I fried a big Vidalia onion in butter to put on top, as you can see in the photo.


I think the organic movement is slowing down. Well, at least I hope it is. It seems to be more about branding now than anything else. I read in the Times recently that there is essentially no difference between organic and conventional produce in terms of pesticide content. Anyway, buying fresh food from a local farm is earth-friendlier than buying a big container of whatever organic crap at Trader Joe’s any day.

I wish my farmer’s market had homemade pierogies. I’m jealous!

Oh, wait. I think I get it now. Mom’s in Pittsburgh. Leland’s in New York. Would you consider organizing the posts by author on your sidebar? So I could read all of Mom’s work? Leland’s post just make me jealous and bitter. And I was SO confused about those restaurants . . .

On a more positive note, if you’ve read Lindy/Toast on the Kretschmann farm box (local organic veg delivery in Pittsburgh) then everything she says is true. It’s a great service, practical and exciting and rewarding and delicious and . . .

Zp-I have thought over the years of subscribing to those farm boxes, and Lindy really makes it sound enticing. I guess one thing that holds me back is that we tend to travel so much in the summer with my husband’s second job that I was afraid a lot would go to waste, but if Lindy can eat it all we ought to be able to.

Also, I’m not even sure how to go about subscribing, but I bet the information is available on the internet like everything else!

Are you referring to the farmer’s market next to Home Depot that seems to always be closed (at least when I view it from the parking lot of HD)? What kind of variety do they have?

Colin, your gravatar looks great! Now I’m going to start looking for you all over the East End, like I peer at hip young guys on bicycles, wondering if they are zp.

I tend to go to the East Liberty farmers market, which is open on Mondays from 3:30-6:30 and is pretty well attended (by vendors). Wilkinsburg is closer to me but they don’t get as many farmers; if I just want to run down and get some corn or something I’ll do that, though. They are open down there in the Ross St. parking lot on Mondays and Thursdays from 3-6. Oh, to get to the East Liberty market, just keep driving on that crazy Penn Circle, past the Home Depot towards the Whole Foods and you’ll see it.

The market you’re talking about, behind the HD that always looks deserted, is open on Saturday mornings from some ungodly hour like 5 AM and closes at noon. The nice thing is it’s open all year and you can always get farm eggs and nice meat there. The rest of the year it’s seasonal, so right now it’s probably really jumping with produce.

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