I was planning to review the Richfield Farmers’ Market, but I needed to give someone a lift downtown anyway (more about that later)… so we went to our old home Farmers’ Market under the overpass near downtown this week.  It occurred to me that I should probably review it as a baseline. 

I should say, that the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market is a unique place.  In spite of the state’s goal to annihilate it for a football stadium and their concerted goal to make parking unbearable by situating a Twins stadium nearby, it prospers.

I think that there are few places in the Twin Cities that such an ethnically diverse group of people mix.  If you want the true feeling of a city with many different cultures represented, come to the Farmers’ Market.  You will hear many languages spoken by both venders and customers. You will see evidence of many religions displayed from Muslims, Hindu and Amish people in colorful costumes. 

By the way, just to be clear, I always refer to the Farmers’ Market as whole, but there is actually two sections, each with different rules and ownership:  the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market and the Farmers’ Market Annex.  The Minneapolis Farmers’ Market  is the north three sheds, and the southern part is the Farmers’ Market Annex.  The guidelines for venders are stricter in the Farmers’ Market proper, so the produce, products and meats are more likely to be locally produced.  The Annex has a variety of products, many that are imported.

I would say that the best thing about the Farmers’ Market is the diversity of products.  Every week there is something new, and not just due to the change of the season. This week we found locally grown artichokes from Wisconsin.

Here’s a few of my favorite venders:

St. Martin’s Gourmet Importers- Farmers’ Market Annex, sometimes Farmers’ Market. 

Steve loves their olives, I think their balsamic vinegar is the best.

Bar 5  – Farmer’s Market. 

This family owned stand has lamb, duck, chicken, beef, rabbit, pork and turkeys.  My favorite is their smoked chicken.  We pair it with Asian noodles, peanut sauce, shredded carrots, spinach and cucumbers for a wonderful salad.  It also makes great sandwiches.  When they have duck and chicken livers, they are fabulous, very clean and delicious. 

Tou G Yang – Farmers’ Market

Wonderful garlic-  I will just show you this picture as proof:

Caribbean Heat– both Farmers’ Market and Farmers’ Market Annex

Joe has several great products, but my favorite is his tamales.  They make a great fast dinner.  His chips are great, very fresh and crisp.  His tortillas are hand-made and the taste shows it.  Steve likes several of his hot sauces, in particular, Marie Sharp.  My midwestern tastes can’t handle that heat.

I got cheese. – Farmers’ Market Annex.  Love, love, love the apricot cheese.  Also, the five year cheddar with tiny little crunch crystals in it is wonderful.  These are domestic cheeses from Wisconsin, but very high quality and unusual.

Don Heidel – Farmers’ Market

Steve loves Don’s yellow corn (he also has bi-color).  The yellow is harder to find and has that distinctive corny flavor.  My favorite is his microgreens.  He is the first one in the spring with vegetables, usually with parsnips and onions.  His microgreens come in before anyone else’s and are super tender and sweet.

Tollefson’s Family Pork– Farmers’ Market

Tollefson’s is another meat vender.  He only sells pork, but with a plethora of products.  My absolute favorite is his ham.  It is the best ham I’ve ever had.  It will ruin you for ham from the grocery store.  He also has great thick cut bacon.  One of his unique products is smoked pork chops.  They will grill one up for a sandwich while you wait or you can take them home and make them yourself, both great.

Untiedt’s– Farmers’ Market and Farmer’s Market Annex

Untiedt really seems to be doing farming in a way that is about diversification.  He offers both Minnesota grown produce from his farm and high quality trucked in products at the Annex.  He is one of the earliest farmers to have tomatoes- and real Minnesota grown fabulous tomatoes.  He has heirloom tomatoes.  He has produce stands around the city if you don’t make it downtown.  His trucked in produce is very fresh, especially the peaches.  If you are like Steve, and can’t ever get enough sweet corn on the cob, he has corn that he ships from the south before his own Minnesota crop comes in.  Just to get an idea of how many different things he has on a regular basis, two weeks ago he had blueberries, tomatoes (both regular and heirlooms) raspberries, peaches, melon, Minnesota corn, zucchini and cucumbers.

So as I said, we had to give someone a lift.  I scammed a picture of him:

Yes, here he is, our own street musician, born and raised on the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market.

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