To Market We Go

Published On April 12, 2011 | By Gypsy | On The Street

Annapolis Royal Market, John Elliot - Food Gypsy“Food is an important part of a balanced Diet.”~ Fran Lebowitz

Birke Baehr is 11 years old, his simple approach to what we eat, farming practices and Genetically Modified Foods is simple and absolute.  “Why are we putting poison on our food?” wisdom from the mouth of a babe. 

As more and more consumers wake up to the horrors behind corporate farming,  Farmer’s Markets are growing by leaps and bounds as consumers look for local, fresh food grown in settings that say “good food” to them, farms where, as Birke says “pigs roll in mud”. 

Farmers Markets are a $3.09 Billion dollar business in Canada alone, because now 92% of consumers say buying directly from a farmer is important to them.

(source: The National Farmers’ Market Impact Study 2009 Report, 2009. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

It’s not just “local” that is important, it is “I know this food” and “I know the hands that raised it”.

Birke now wants to be an organic farmer, so that he can “have a greater impact on the world” than say, being a professional football player (his words, not mine).  Teachers and farmers, they mould a nation.  Love this kid, love what he has to say and I love that he is brave enough to say to stand up for what he believes is his right: clean, natural food.

He also claims to like baked kale chips… which will make many parents suspicious when they can’t get their kids to eat anything other than pizza, never mind something green.

There is very little I enjoy more than a great market.  When traveling I often source local markets just for the food porn, a couple of years ago my entire trip to Rome was centered around the Campo de Fiori Market, Rome’s oldest marketplace, because I read in Bon Appetit Magazine that it was Mario Batali’s favorite market.

Campo de Fiori, in autumn

Campo de Fiori – small truck, big pumpkins. Rome, Italy.

Last month a day trip to Montreal focused on the Jean-Telon Market and the finds there (and trip to Schwartz’s Deli, post to follow).  Where I found a new (to me) odd looking vegetable which I’m still trying to identify.  Looking like the lovechild of broccoli and romaine, it has the texture of lettuce and a bitter taste, like heart of romaine multiplied.  Bought one to experiment but between taste and texture — I find myself truly uninspired.

Oh well, can’t blame a gal for trying. I also bought fresh figs and believe me, those didn’t last.

Market cruising while globe-trotting is among my favorite pastimes… it exposes me to new and interesting things; new tastes and textures and above all, the culture of food.  Indeed we are what we eat.

The Jean-Telon Market, Montreal

Tasting tomatoes, the Jean-Telon Market, Montreal, Canada.

I’ve always found people more than willing to offer directions to their local market, some will even take you there and in many heavily touristed markets – such as Campo de Fiori and the Byward Market here in Ottawa – offer market tours that cover not just the spoils of the market itself, but a peek into a city’s history though it’s food culture.

A little food appreciation goes a long way and what better place to find it than at your local Farmer’s Market?

Market season is just around the corner; if you’re looking for a market near you, a “new to you market”, or traveling and looking for some fun foodie stops here are a couple of interesting resources:

In Canada:
In the United States:

If you have a favorite market that you simply MUST share, local or global, please post a comment below or in our new Foodie Forum.  We’d love to hear from you.

And if you know what this crazy lettuce thingy is will you clue me in? It’s a mystery in my fridge.

Mystery Vegetable, Food Gypsy

(as yet) Unidentified vegetable… I love a good mystery.

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About The Author

"Gypsy" is not my real name." A freelance food & travel writer & photographer based in Aylmer, Quebec. Corinna Horton trained at Le Cordon Bleu, spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn, and is currently between big, shiny kitchens as she focuses on family and what's next in this delicious life.