Farmers’ Markets: The Best of Local, Fresh, and International Foods

INA-2 imageThere has been an explosion of farmers’ markets as people’s tastes and expectations have changed. Demand is still growing for locally and regionally grown food that supports nearby farms and communities; for organic produce free of pesticides, as well as prepared items free of artificial ingredients; and for richer menus of local, regional, and international fare.

These changing demands are reflected in the vast range of farmers markets—everything from individual farm stands to larger indoor markets, like the Market at the Fareway (formerly the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market), which assembles a varied collection of stalls, offering a huge range of foods, from fruits and vegetables to meat, from healthy drinks through cheeses and baked goods. Larger indoor markets like the Market at the Fareway will often feature both regional and exotic products, some grown nearby, some grown further afield, even internationally if local vendors specialize in cuisine from other countries.

The Market at the Fareway in Chestnut Hill makes a point of supporting the region’s agricultural and food community. It not only brings in prepared items, meat, and chicken from local and regional farms, but also encourages and hosts local producers and chefs, who may be trying out new dishes and fares.

In this sense, visiting a farmers market in Philadelphia is not unlike taking an exotic journey and discovering new horizons through your palate. While not the same as physically traveling to new destinations, trying freshly-produced specialties from other places in United State and other countries do bring international cultures and sensibilities closer to you.
The greater Philadelphia region is fortunate to have access to such a wealth of farmers’ markets and different foods. No two are the same in what they offer or how they look, because most are run independently by a family or small group, unlike supermarkets which are designed to all look the same by their parent corporation and tend to carry the same brands and items.

Philadelphia farmers’ markets benefit greatly from their position in a rich agricultural region in Pennsylvania, as well as in their proximity to the wider mid-Atlantic and Northeast. This means that you can find a terrific selection of fresh local and regional foods, as well as exciting variations among them. And with this region’s relatively close access to international destinations like Canada and Europe, you may even see fresh, organic items from these areas too.
Similarly, in California for instance, its farmers’ markets are likely to have food from Hawaii, Asia, Latin and South America. But nearly every market, including Philadelphia, tends to have fruit and vegetables from Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America, since their warm climates are so favorable to growers. So, it’s not unusual to see guava, starfruit, and cherimoya sitting alongside your apples, oranges, and pears. But unlike in supermarket, in a farmers’ market you are likely to find that many of these products are organic, their quality often surpassing USDA benchmarks.

What are you waiting for? Visit a Chestnut Hill farmers’ market or any Philadelphia farmers market this weekend!

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