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What’s at Wintertime Farmers Markets (Besides Root Vegetables)

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It’s not far-fetched to think that farmers markets close during the wintertime. There aren’t anymore tomatoes and peaches and spring lettuces—what could possibly be at the markets? More than root vegetables, that's for sure.

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The truth is, more and more farmers markets are staying open through the winter (indeed, some do close, but check before you assume yours does!). In New York, the number of wintertime markets have skyrocketed 198% since 2007. Some may move inside and others may stay exactly where they were all summer, but they’re worth visiting for many reasons. Here’s what’s at the farmers market these days:

  • Not that many people: You can stroll down the aisles casually and talk with farmers for longer. Then, come next summer, you’ll already be friends and they might save you some of their last berries.
  • Contributing Writer and Editor Lindsay-Jean Hard pointed out that markets nowadays oftentimes have dry goods like local grains, flours, and dried beans that are always good to have around.
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  • Without ramps and corn clouding your judgement, you might find a prepared food stall you adore. They’re generally up and running year-round.
  • Always the optimist, Assistant Editor Caroline Lange likes winter markets because you get the first, exclusive, shiny sign of spring—the first rhubarb, pea shoots, bud branches:

    This first peek always makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. In the middle of a cold, wet, gray landscape, the market provides crazy pops.

  • Lots of kale, but be open to cheating on it, too, because there are so many other interesting greens to pick from, maybe more so than at other times of the year. Now’s the time for creamed greens, braised rabe, green soup, and pestos made of spicy greens with the spinach, rabe, chard, arugula, kale, Asian greens, and beautiful radicchio. You may find a deeply-hued green you’ve never seen before; grab it and get experimenting.
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  • So many kinds of citrus! Take 15 minutes to peel a pomelo, discover Oro Blanco, kumquats, and Buddha’s Hand. Eat blood oranges like they’re, well, kale. There are also other fruits that shine bright right now, namely persimmons and pomegranates.
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  • And yes, there are lots of hardy vegetables—carrots, yams, beets, parsnips, onions, squash—but they’ll be from close by and likely really flavorful. (When was the last time you had a tasteless carrot? Yesterday, for me.)
  • They’re there. Farmers still need our support, no matter the season. As Kendra Aronson, the writer and photographer behind The San Luis Obispo Farmers' Market Cookbook put it:

Despite the downpours, you've got to make the trek to the market. Support your local farmer—both in moral support and financial support. Showing your dedicated loyalty year-round means the world to them. Embrace the weather and make it an adventure! The meal you make at home will taste infinitely better because you made the trek and braved the weather to the farmers' market, I promise.

Tags: Winter, Farmers Markets