Friday, August 23, 2013

Which is the best farmers market in Grand Rapids?

Are you looking forward to the grand opening of the indoor part of the new Downtown Market?  So am I!  I love farmers markets, and I've happily browsed then here in Grand Rapids, all over Michigan and in Eastern Europe.  It's a serendipitous experience, going to a farmer's market - you never know what you will find on any given day.  It looks like the new indoor market is going to be a foodie's dream too with a couple dozen artisan vendors - several of them have plied their trades via the West Michigan Coop for the last several years - food demonstrations, a kids' kitchen, and rooftop gardens, among other attractions.  Very exciting!  I love watching West Michigan's foodshed grow and develop.

But, to be honest, I think the Grand Opening on September 2 is going to be a bit of a crush, and I don't love crowds, so I'm planning to wait until things die down a bit before exploring.  Until then, and even after, I'm happy to visit the old/new Fulton Street Farmer's Market to get my fresh, local fruits and veggies and my free range meats as well.  I've become familiar with it over the years as I've eased myself and my family off the Standard American Diet, cooking more and with better, healthier ingredients.  I picked up my CSA farm share there for several years.  I was thrilled to see it get upgraded into a larger and more attractive facility last year.  And today I paid it a little visit just for the fun of it.

As I was making my way towards S&S Lamb to check out this month's Meat Box, a waft of lavender distracted me.  Well, not really - I couldn't actually smell the lavender until I got closer; it was the little canning jars that really caught my attention. These were filled with homemade cleanser, scented with lavender oil.  As I had just made my own cleanser with borax, baking soda, and powdered clementine peels, I stopped to ask the owner, Theresa Hein, about the products available at The Old White House. Theresa sells natural lavender laundry and cleaning provisions, and all of it was so fresh and clean and pretty, I wanted to buy at least one of everything - even though already make my own laundry soap, cleanser, and have a bottle of lavender essential oil in my herbal supplies.  Theresa is very committed to living greener, eating healthier, and exploring less chemical/pharmaceutical medicinal traditions, which explains her attraction to lavender.  Lavender oil is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, healing and stress relieving, so it's a great oil to use in a so many ways.  I add it to many of the healing salves I make for people I know, and people always comment on how good it smells.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation I had with Theresa, and it underscored why I love going to the farmer's market so much - I get to talk with people who have the same interests I have and are on many of the same paths I'm traveling myself toward healthier living.  I enjoy being around other people who can (and do!) wax eloquent about garlic or free range chickens.  It's good to know that I can find kindred spirits just a short drive away to the farmer's market.  Try it for yourself one of these Saturdays while the weather is still beautiful and the produce is prolific.