5 Misconceptions About Farmers Markets

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1) Farmer’s Markets are expensive

Some people think that because it is organic, local and ran on a smaller scale means it is more expensive to cover the costs of production and that extra cost is passed on to the consumer. FALSE! Because products at the market are local it means the cost of transporting these goods diminishes. Rather than coming from across the country or even across the world, nearly all of the products you can buy at the Market are coming from less than 50 miles away, which also means goods are fresher. Market items are commonly picked, baked or prepared fresh and do not have to sit in a refrigerated trailer for more than 24 hours before the market.

2) You can shop local products at grocery stores

This is becoming more of a reality; you do not have to go far to find local products from your area. Woohoo!  You may see a number of large grocery stores increasing their supply of locally sourced fruits and vegetables along with a display of local peanut butters, grains and more, making it more accessible for the consumer to eat more sustainably; however, when you come out to the Market, EVERYTHING you shop, eat and enjoy is local. ALL of the produce you shop is sustainably produced and your dollars are going directly to the producer rather than a big box store middle-man.

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We stand for refugee success

At the Open Air Market at Phoenix Public Market, we’re all about helping our community. We help farmers and local businesses get their products to the masses and we help the people of our local community by providing a place where they can easily access those local farmers and businesses to support them. As a nonprofit organization ourselves, we’d like to take a moment to highlight another nonprofit organization we work with that’s making an incredible impact right here in our community as well as around the globe.

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Multi-sensory Market Discoveries [Shishito Shitake Shakedown]

Shopping at a farmers market awakens the senses and makes us realize that the exotic is not so far away. It’s a multi-sensory activity where we learn about, interact with, and become part of our surroundings. This week, we discovered that our favorite restaurant treat is available through a few of our farmers: Shishito Peppers!

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Shishito peppers are said to have originated in Eastern Asia. They are part of the Capsicum species, along with bell peppers and cayenne peppers. These crops generally do great in dry, hot climates and get more flavorful with more sun exposure. Lucky us – we’ve got plenty of that! Recently, shishito peppers have gained popularity and can be found usually as a finger-food appetizer at trendy restaurants. We found ours at Al Hamka Family Farm.

Shishito peppers vary greatly between crops – on the same vine, one may be sweet and mild while the one next to it is savory and spicy. That’s what makes them addictive! One local restaurant named them “Russian Roulette Peppers” because you never know what you’ll get, and if you’re into surprises, you’ll be digging for the hottest in the bowl.

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Since they’re so easy to prepare, why not try them at home? Maybe even on the grill! If you’re extra DIY, a lemon aioli is easily prepared in a blender – add a little smokiness or zing with paprika or apple cider vinegar.

To start our shishito dinner, we first reached for an ice-cold beer. Then, we threw our peppers in a grill basket with some lime juice and zest, garlic, soy sauce, black pepper, and canola oil to coat. We used a microplane for the lime zest and the garlic. They cooked on high heat for about 10 minutes, tossing every four minutes or so to ensure an even char. Next time, we intend to take the char even further than this go-around. Having too many peppers and not enough surface area makes for overcooked peppers without much texture – though never lacking in flavor. A nice blended salsa or sauce could be made with these if they do seem overcooked!

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We paired our shishitos with some shitake mushrooms from Southwest Mushrooms and some frozen potstickers. It made for a great weeknight meal that breaks up the monotony of salads, pastas, and meat-centric roasts. Each bite was definitely spicy! Dinner became a competition of how much heat we could handle…so it was nice to get the occasional mild pepper. Leftovers will go into brown rice with a drizzle of Saucy Lips Pineapple Thai sauce for take-along lunches.

Get inspired next time you’re at the Open Air Market by looking out for produce you don’t see year-round. A long, skinny pepper available by the handful? Ask the farmer what they usually do with it, where it comes from, why it thrives in our climate.

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Multi-sensory Market Discoveries [Lemon Verbena]

Shopping at a farmers market is nothing like shopping at a grocery store. It’s a multi-sensory activity where we learn about, interact with, and become part of our surroundings. This week, we discovered a new-to-us herb: Lemon Verbena!

During the last hour of the market, we happened upon Lemon Verbena at Maya’s Farm. We sniffed at the leaves wondering what it was, though the lemony aspect of it was very obvious. It smelled a little more floral than other herbs at the table, though everything at this booth toes the line between flower, herb, and vegetable.

Maya herself convinced us to take it home and experiment! She told us to make a tea with it by simply adding it to just-boiled water (being sure to take it off the heat once we put the leaves in). Lemon Verbena can also be used in salads, with fish and chicken, and whatever else lemon would otherwise be great with. We grabbed a couple bunches of it along with some of the robust rosemary next to it, and flaunted its beautiful smell to friends we bumped into on the way out of the aisle.

Little did we know…Lemon Verbena is highly medicinal! In its thin and bright green leaves, there is a high concentrate of antioxidant compounds, anti-inflammatory, and anti-spasmodic properties. It even moderates appetite and is a great anti-stress agent.

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The tea was refreshing and floral! We ended up specifically craving it over ice at the end of a long, hot day. But it also just made the house smell amazing! Adding a sprig of rosemary was a good move, giving the tea a bit of nuance and a savory touch. Mint would be a natural addition, too. Having a jar of concentrated Lemon Verbena tea is sure to improve Summer. Next, maybe roasted halibut with asparagus–that would go great with Lemon Verbena!
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Multi-sensory discoveries can be made all over the market. Get the most out of the Open Air Market by opening your senses–smell what you see and listen to what you can feel. Ask a farmer or a fellow shopper about their experience, inquire about the story behind a handmade good and truly connect with your local commerce.
Be sure to share your findings with us and the market community on Instagram and Facebook with #lettucemeatdowntown!

Locally Sourced + Market Approved

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One of our favorite things at the Market is the fact we get to meet the growers and producers, ask questions and learn how our foods and products are grown and made.  Traceability is important, we should know where our food comes from just the same we like to know it’s organic.  We should be able to see and understand the food chain and what we’re buying and consuming.

Look our new for the Locally Sourced badge at the Market! 

Vendors offering products featuring more than 50% locally-sourced ingredients are being awarded “Phoenix Public Market Approved” badges.  In addition to the nutritional and health benefits, choosing these products keeps even more money in the local economy, leading to a healthier sustainable community.

We have power as consumers and where we choose to use our spending power makes an impact! When you choose to shop local you support.

We love sharing all of the wonderful reasons shopping local is so valuable to our community! Want to read more?  Check out these past blog posts: Why Shop Local?
The Importance of Shopping Local Growers and Producers

Prepare for Citrusocolypse

It’s every Arizonan’s duty to be able to recite the 5 C’s like the ABC’s: Cotton, Copper, Cattle, Climate, and CITRUS!

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In the early years of Arizona’s history, citrus was a major player in the fate of Arizona’s economy. Citrus was brought over to the Southwest in the 18th century by Spanish settlers. As grapefruit in particular gained popularity during the 1930s, more than 1 million crates of grapefruits were produced by our state in the year of 1935.

The industry flocked to Arizona, landing mainly in the Arcadia and Mesa areas, where many groves are landmarks for historic neighborhoods. The sprawl of these neighborhoods and urban areas in general encroaching on farmland is largely why orchards declined heavily in the 1990s.

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Our warm and sunny climate creates a perfect incubator for sweet, juicy citrus of many varieties. Today, shoppers at Phoenix Public Market can find tangelos, kumquats, ruby reds, and so much more in overwhelming abundance at every grower’s stand. The ubiquity of citrus in our Phoenician lives can make the fruit mundane and cumbersome, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy it and reap the nutritional benefits–it’s time to get creative!

Read on for 4 ways get excited about our prolonged and plentiful citrus season…

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True To Its Name and Sweet As Can Be

Eleanor Dziuk knew there were plenty of beekeepers in Arizona, but she wasn’t seeing their honey for sale at local farmers markets, so in 2001, she set out to change that.

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Absolutely Delightful started when Eleanor connected with Dennis Arp of Mountain Top Honey to learn from his expertise and begin selling his products.

“Most beekeepers are very, very busy people,” Eleanor said. “They don’t have time to be at the markets.”

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Get the Most Out of Your Gourd

Fall is finally here! Even in the concrete jungle where the forecast still says 97 degrees, it’s time to celebrate! This Saturday at the market, Downtown Phoenix can enjoy a celebration of all things Autumn as we cozy up into a new season. At the market, there will be a costume contest, pumpkin carving station, Open Air scavenger hunt, pumpkin displays for adorable photo-ops, and pumpkin patches with a variety of Phoenix-grown pumpkins to take home. Of course, shoppers can also pick up fall flavors at almost every vendor booth, as well as market-roasted chiles for what bubbles in the cauldron at home.

All this fun begs the question: once the great pumpkin is chosen and does its decorative duty at the doorstep–what’s next? Cut it open and roast the seeds, leaving the body for compost? Use it as a doorstop in the home and see how long it lasts before rotting from the inside out? Find the local trebuchet and see how far it’ll go? Maybe we can suggest something better:

homemade pumpkin puree!

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Passion Found Under a Palm Frond

Recently, we heard of the devastating passing of Downtown Phoenix community member Monika Woosley. She left behind a powerful legacy that can only intrigue and inspire. Monika founded Hip Veggies in 2012 as an outlet for her passion for community, food, art, and outreach. Through Hip Veggies, among many subjects, she taught us about foraging in Phoenix; about how easy and fulfilling it can be and how important it is to our Arizonan culture.


This weekend, we honor her by digging into some foraging knowledge imparted by her foraging friend and colleague, The Green Man himself, Andrew Pisher. Andrew grew up in upstate New York and moved to Phoenix 13 years ago in search of sun. He is an entrepreneur to the core, always thinking up ways to embrace Mother Nature (literally–this is a man who seriously loves to climb trees) with his certification in urban farming and ongoing studies in nutrition.

Treelation, his tree trimming and removal company, works with residents through his Foraging Fanatics service to make use of excess from trees that bear edibles or have medicinal properties. Many residents are overwhelmed by the harvest, leaving it misunderstood, unwanted, and disregarded. With Foraging Fanatics, Andrew is able to accrue pounds and pounds of excess fruits, herbs, legumes, and nuts native to our state. He then sells that harvest in bulk through his website, thus making would-be rotted or dried out trash profitable. Andrew’s business, and foraging in general, is a win-win for our ecosystem and its inhabitants. 

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Some Like it Raw

Walking the farmers market can be a very inspiring journey. In each aisle, shoppers might find a fruit they’ve never tasted, maybe a condiment they’ve never thought of, or perhaps even a dog on a skateboard scooting by. For Kenny Hadley, the market inspired a total lifestyle change.

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Kenny has been a volunteer at the Community Exchange Table (CET) for nine years. Now, Kenny is known as the booth manager. His family, of Hadley Farmship, helped start the club through a local permaculture group. The operation is run completely by volunteers, and featured neighborhood growers and makers keep 80% or 90% of their profits (depending on the market they’re selling at).

The CET lately features the Orchard Community Learning Center, Sundown Ranch, two independent neighborhood locals who grow fruit and make all-natural beauty products, as well as Hadley Farmship. Growers and makers set their own prices. The Hadley’s also produce “Mom’s Tortillas.” Produce ranges from the exotic non-edibles that will catch shoppers’ eyes, such as loofah and pine-cones, to the all-familiar basil (bags of which they famously sell for just $1). Often, heritage seeds are sold next to the fruit they produce. Kenny recalls seeing huge stalks of sugarcane for sale at one market, but maintains that tart and sweet mulberries from their table are still the best thing he’s ever eaten in Phoenix.

Kenny’s perspective on produce in Phoenix is especially viable due to the fact that he has been eating exclusively raw vegan foods for five years this October. After watching “Food Inc.” in 2008, he had worked to cut “bad” foods from his diet progressively until 2012. At that point, Kenny was inspired to attempt a 10-day all-raw challenge by a fellow vendor at the market after hearing how great much it improved their overall well-being. His 10-day challenge became a life challenge.

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