Earlier this summer, for the first time in my adult life, I tasted a carrot. Now, I’ve eaten carrots from the supermarket before, in soups and sometimes salads, and I can’t remember any of them– bland, crunchy orange sticks that are disappointingly unextraordinary. But I got excited just looking through the enticing piles of vivid orange carrots with their luscious leafy green tops at the farmer’s markets two weeks ago. I could see, just looking at them, that they would be cruncy and sweet. So we added a fabulous bunch of rainbow carrots to our canvas tote (for $2.50, which I feel is a great bargain for organic veggies) already brimming full of fresh produce. Rainbow carrots are fantastic– the bunch we picked out had orange, a light yellow/white and deep purple. And they smelled like carrots, sweet and, well– carroty. And that first bite– I couldn’t resist grabbing one from the bunch, brushing off the bits of (pesticide-free) dirt and taking a bite on the train platform on our way home. I fell in love with real carrots in that moment. I crave them all the time, but fresh bitten right of the tops. Tasting that first organic carrot, that a farmer pulled up from the soil with his or her own hand the night before, was a pivotal moment. I already believe in eating organically, supporting local farmers, merchants and economy and living as simply as we can. But that carrot reinforced it for me in a big way. The only place I want to buy carrots from (not to mention cherry tomatoes, heirloom lettuce and my much-coveted weekly supply of shallots) is from the farmer that grew them. It makes the most sense because it’s affordable, it’s a better way to live, and to put it in possibly the most compelling terms– it just tastes better.
So, Chicago/Evanston locals should really make the Evanston farmer’s market the weekly shopping trip for produce at least, and at most do your weekly marketing there– there are regular vendors who sell baked goods, eggs, milk, organic beef and poultry, as well as flowers and plants. The market is located in a large parking lot just northwest of downtown at the intersection of University Place and Oak Avenue (get off at the Davis street el stop if you’re taking the train). It runs every Saturday, from 7:30-1:00, and this year the market is scheduled through November 4th. There are over 30 vendors every weekend, so there’s sure to be something for everyone!