Wednesday, July 02, 2008

MCA Farmer's Market

We Need After Hour Farmer's Markets!

We had the perfect Tuesday afternoon planned. I spent the morning ably in work, completing a case, but perhaps the day's events were foreshadowed by a software glitch that prevented me from sending out this report. Rick Bayless, by way of Macy's 7th floor, left a bad taste in my mouth too. It cost me over $10 for slices of chicken breast (I'm not sure if a whole breast made it on my sandwich), a small container of salsa from a jar and a watery diet Coke. I gotta certain amount of love AND respect for Mr. Bayless. He is very local ya' know, but I also find, well, they never call hm Rick "Value" Bayless.

They may call me "Mr. Farmer's Market"(although my family also calls me Mr. Thin Slicer and Mr. Mirth Provider but that's neither here nor there to the point at hand). No one loves farmer's markets more than me. I've driven in horrible storms to get to Madison's market; braved sub-zero weather for a market in Ann Arbor. I'll get out of bed at the crack of dawn to ensure my Saturday includes a stop at the Oak Park market. These days, I'm at at least 2 markets a week. Because I am Mr. Farmer's Market I can criticize the hell out of them.

Really, I said that wrong. I don't mean to criticize farmer's markets. I mean to criticize the idea of farmer's markets. And it's not even farmer's markets I am criticizing. What I mean to say is that farmer's markets are a problem for the locavore. OK, what I mean to say, is that you should not have to rely soley on farmer's markets to eat local. Make sense yet? All I'm trying to get to is that it would be helpful if farmer's markets had hours that facilitated more people eating local. Like, for instance, how 'bout a market that was open on the way home from work, so you could be inspired by the bounty and then cook dinner.

The market at the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is advertised as going to 6 PM. Back to my swimmingly planned day. The plan was that Mom and Older Daughter would take advantage of free Tuesdays to see the Jeff Koons exhibit, and Dad would get another market under his belt. I did a bit of recon while they got a head start on me--there's only so much high class porn masquerading as art [ed., don't forget floating basketballs too!] I need. It looked like a very adequate market. I was especially interested in buying new potatoes, basil and baby zukes. The problem, when we left the market around 4 PM, about 1/2 the stands were packing up. We did buy fruit from Ellis and Nofke who swore they'd stay to the end. The MCA market is also the only market in the the Michigan Ave/Streeterville area. I'd have better things to say about it if it kept to its schedule.

Just today I was telling someone that one of the key challenges of eating local was the tracking down of one's food. I caveat-ed that by saying I, personally, find pleasure in the hunt, but I recognize that not everyone else does. I want people to adopt local eating. I have less of a need for people to adopt local eating challenges. Local eating will become less of a challenge when there are more options for getting local food, including farmer's markets that stay open late.


Jean said...

Do you (or anyone) know anything about the stand on the very SW corner of the MCA plaza? Actually, I haven't been there yet this year, but in years past, this stand seems to have everything no matter which part of the season we're in, and I overheard a nearby vendor complaining that they were not really a farm at all. Just wondering where their stuff comes from...

Jim said...

While I too love farmers' markets, it seems to me that you have identified in this posting two of the vital services that retailers provide to us city-dwellers. They hunt around for the food, so we don't have to, and more to the point, they buy at hours that are convenient to the farmer and sell at hours that are convenient to the consumer. I'm sure those farmers had a long drive home and an early morning the next day.