Country and city meet at farmers’ markets

If your mind’s still on summer despite fall conditions, try visiting a local farmer’s market for food, art and ambiance that will remind you of warmer times. Milwaukee features several markets every week that are worth checking out, both for the experience and for the benefits of buying locally grown produce.

Kia Thao, owner of Kia’s Flowers, grows flowers on her farm in Plymouth, Wis. and sells them at the East Town Market. She recommended farmers’ markets because the wares are healthier for you than store bought products.

Produce sold at the markets is often organic, which some experts say is healthier than non-organic produce. A study released in July 2009, sponsored by the Food Standards Agency of Britain, suggested that organic food is no healthier than food produced in a non-organic fashion.

Some farmers may grow organically, but are not USDA certified.

Janeen Wederich, co-owner of Satellite Crepes, sells crepes at both the East Side Market and the Westown Farmer’s Market. She endorsed shopping locally, like at farmers’ markets, because the dollar turns over and stays in the community.

“I think buying local is even more important than [buying] organic,” Wederich said.

Emily Krueger, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said this was her second time at the East Town Market.

“I like buying locally to support the Milwaukee community,” she said.

Some offered advice to those visiting a market for the first time.

Bob Petzold, owner of Petzold Farms, is a vendor at the East Town Market.

“Come early,” Petzold said. “Each person has different qualities and different prices.”

“Look for quality products,” Thao said. “Look for things that will last.”

For the best advice on product longevity, it’s often wise to ask farmers or producers themselves. Produce prices are comparable to those at local grocery stores, and are sometimes lower. A box of four to five medium zucchini sold for an average of $2 at the East Town Market last weekend.

A few of Milwaukee’s outdoor farmers’ markets near Marquette are highlighted below.

East Side Green Market

Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm through October 10

Located in the parking lot of Beans and Barley, 1901 E. North Ave.

The East Side Green Market features sellers touting everything from handmade clothing to cucumbers. The market’s official web site lists 15 food vendors and 19 craft vendors, although not all vendors attend each week. It’s a good option for both browsing and grocery shopping.

“I come to this market because it is my favorite part of town,” said Byron Jackson, owner of Man’s Best Friend, a gourmet hot sauce company. “I like the energy of the east side.”

Rachel Muza, who makes dresses under the name Owl Eyes Clothing and Design, sells them at the East Side Green Market with her mother, Linda Muza.

“It is good for people watching,” Muza said. “I make the dresses, she makes the bags, all out of recycled materials.”

East Town Market

Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through October

Cathedral Square Park, 520 E. Wells St.

Over 80 Wisconsin farmers, craftsmen, bakers and chefs make up the East Town Market, according to its web site, making it the largest of the four listed. It also kicks off earliest, making it great for the rare college student who doesn’t sleep in on weekends.

Unique to this market is “Battle of the Chefs,” where four chefs from four different restaurants compete against each other to make the perfect dish for judges. They’re given $50 to purchase ingredients from the market.

“Every chef is given four mystery ingredients,” said Brendan Moore, general manager of Fratello’s Waterfront Restaurant, 102 N. Water St. All four ingredients must be used, which can be daunting, considering past competitions have featured peanut butter, chicken livers and ground buffalo.

Outdoor Urban Market

Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through October 17

Located outside the Milwaukee Public Market at 400 N. Water St.

The smallest of the four markets, the outdoor Urban Market sells mostly art, jewelry and handicrafts rather than produce and food, like the others. On August 29th, only three vendors were selling at the market.

Rachelle Gerbasi sells 100 percent soy wax candles here that she makes in her home studio. She said six to ten vendors sell at this market each Saturday.

Westown Farmer’s Market

Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through October 28

Located in Zeidler Union Square, 301 W. Michigan St.

Westown Farmer’s Market, the closest to Marquette’s campus, offers cheese, flowers, produce, prepared foods, art, jewelry and more. It hosts various types of entertainment throughout the market season, including chef demonstrations, live music and a pumpkin carving event on Oct. 28.

Laura’s Recipe of the Week

Microwave Raspberry Sauce

This seasonal recipe is great for those living in dorms or apartments. It requires only a microwave, bowl, fork and a few ingredients. Fresh raspberries can be purchased at most of the markets above. The berries generally sell out early and will only be available for a few more weeks, weather pending.

You will need:

1 pint fresh raspberries

3 tablespoons sugar, possibly more to taste

1 teaspoon honey

3-4 drops lemon juice (optional)

Method:

0.In a medium-sized microwave safe bowl, add the berries and sugar.

0.Mash berries with the fork about 15 times. Stir until evenly incorporated.

0.Place bowl with berries and sugar in the microwave on high for 4 to 6 minutes. Watch the bowl to prevent boil over.

0.Cool sauce. Stir in lemon juice and honey. Add more sugar if desired.

Try on toast, ice cream or stirred into plain yogurt or oatmeal.