Shopping the Warrenville Farmers Market

I dragged myself from the laptop and the sewing machine at about four o’clock, to go to the post office and drive the extra block from the PO to the parking lot of the ‘Ville Community Center. The lot is ample for the need, but please don’t imagine acres of chic chefly produce here –I didn’t count, but  I think there are no more than twenty tables. A depressingly large number of them are devoted to Tupperware, flea market odds and ends and all those mysterious “food” booths, which consist of nothing but glossy brochures and sign-up sheets. Not exactly the Union Square Greenmarket.

But the City Parents have improved it enormously since last year, when there were booth after booth of people selling American Girls doll clothes and exactly one produce seller. That seller, from way downstate, is back this year with an expanded selection. A baker from Geneva is there, and my two new favorites, which I’ll highlight first.

He explained to me that his poultry and the eggs they produce are not only organic and cage free and free-range — they’re pastured. Yep, out all day in fields, in at night so the foxes and coyotes don’t get them. His meat –pork, chicken and beef, are lucky animals too. I picked up another dozen of the best eggs I can buy, and forked out five bucks for them. Not cheap, but I’ll be cheerful every time I crack one.

I also bought a chunk of organic Wisconsin Wine Cheddar, which I intend to hide.

On to my favorite stall, tended by a glowing family from about an hour from the ‘Ville. Every single shopper was toting a six-pack of their corn, still hands down the best I’ve eaten this year in what’s been a great summer for corn. (All that rain and heat, I guess.) I added some baby eggplants, yellow pattypans, golden beets and huge tomatoes, picked that morning in their garden. It seems they hit a Farmers Market a day, but the lady confided: “I love being in Warrenville — it’s like some little tiny town no one knows about in these fancy suburbs.” Perceptive lady.

The moment that Made my Day: before I snapped their pic I introduced myself as the food writer from the local paper. A voice to my left said” “Oh my God, are you Margaret?” Wow. Seemed the impeccably chic lady beside me is on the editorial staff of the Village Chronicles . She said: “We just drool over your recipes when we get your stories.” That made me happy.

Here are a few pictures from the big “industrial” Farmers Market farm from way downstate, the one that was the only produce stand last year.

Aren’t those tiny multicolored marble potatoes pretty? I bough half a pound of the impeccable fingerlings.

For those of you who live in places with wondrous Farmers Markets, what do you think of the prices on these mushrooms?

I might ask about at City Hall this winter about plans for next year’s Farmers Market. I’ve seen a huge improvement over last year, and this heartens me. Hmmm — maybe I could get on a Committee ?

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6 Comments

Filed under Food, Growing things, Incredible Edible Egg, On the Street Where I Live, The 'Ville, Worth it anyway

6 responses to “Shopping the Warrenville Farmers Market

  1. Gretchen

    You must get on the committee. And if you do, I will be a joyful volunteer at your side! I am so upset with myself, I almost went down to the market at 4:30 today. If I had, we would have met for sure. 😦

    • Gretchen, unless your career takes you to some gawdful spot next summer, I believe that between us we have the skillz to do something here. Plus, the City Council wouldn’t know what to do with us!

  2. I love the way you love these adventures, with all the colors and flavors you translate so well.

    There’s just something about that stand of vegetables, sitting in those slanty-rows in front of the hands that planted them and picked them and trucked them to market—those slightly warm, never seen-a-fridge green things which are just one day from wither in the waiting. The very idea of them, as opposed to no-matter-how-fresh things chilled with the immediacy of transplant organs and keeping their freshness at the expense of their vitality, somehow.

    These market-stand offerings seem more real, more flavorful, with the warmth still concentrated in their vitals, though the husks are drying and the fruit warmed to an inner hurry to demise.

    And those eggs—those brown, close-guarded eggs with their caretaking and their provenance—you can write a whole ‘nother story of those eggs.

  3. sparrowgrass

    Mmmm, real eggs. I gave my hens away last fall, because I got a new knee in December, and I don’t have any friends who love me enough to come all the way out to my house every day to feed and water and collect eggs.

    My new knee is wonderful, and I have about 20 new pullets I bought this spring who have not yet started laying. Should happen soon.

    I bought 25 cockerels this spring, too–they are mostly all in the freezer. (Some have already achieved their ultimate goodness–fried chicken.)
    ‘Real’ chicken is just as good as real eggs, and just as different from store bought chicken as real eggs are from factory eggs. (Factory eggs are made in egg plants, doncha know.)

  4. Alex

    I guess that’s the Chicagoland premium–I pay between $3 and $4 a dozen for farm eggs here in West MI. And Farmers Market mushrooms are expensive everywhere. Granted they’re not “local,” but I get shiitake, oyster, and king mushrooms at a nearby Oriental food market for a small fraction of those marked prices.

    I love FMs, though. You’re fortunate to have one right near you. In addition to our main Grand Rapids market (do you remember shopping there in 2003?), there are several smaller one-day-a-week markets scattered around the ‘burbs. Yesterday, at one set up in a defunct K-Mart’s parking lot, I picked up a quart of blueberries ($5); six good-sized no-spray tomatoes ($3–I forget the variety); two pints of cherry tomatoes ($2 each–one very sweet orange, one mixed); and a half-peck of Paula Reds ($3).

  5. Kim Shook

    I am filled with despair when I see the amazing markets that other towns enjoy. I’m always hearing about wonderful markets in our area and when we get there they are mostly as you describe. ‘Flea Markets’ would be a more apt name. I mean how many pairs of tube socks does one town NEED????

    That said, the food that is available at your market looks lovely. I love that the stalls selling eggs and cheese and meat are more prevalent nowadays.

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