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Farmers' Markets of the Heartland

Farmers' Markets of the Heartland

Janine MacLachlan
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Farmers' Markets of the Heartland
    Book Description:

    Farmers' Markets of the Heartland celebrates the growers, producers, and artisans who bring fresh, nourishing food to their local communities every week. In this splendidly illustrated book, food writer and self-described farm groupie Janine MacLachlan embarks on an extensive tour of seasonal markets and farmstands throughout the Midwest, sampling local flavors and colors from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin._x000B__x000B_MacLachlan conducts delicious research as she travels across the Heartland to meet farmers, taste their food, and explore how their businesses thrive in the face of an industrial food supply. Finding farmers' markets in leafy parks and edgy neighborhoods, and even one nestled into a national park, MacLachlan tells the stories of a pair of farmers growing specialty crops on a few acres of northern Michigan for just a few months out of the year, an Ohio cattle farm that has raised heritage beef in the same family since 1820, and a Minnesota farmer who has made it her mission to get folks growing the Jimmy Nardello sweet Italian frying pepper. Along the way, she savors vibrant red carrots, slurpy peaches, vast quantities of specialty cheeses, and some of the tastiest pie to cross anyone's lips. _x000B__x000B_Informed by debates about eating local, seasonal crops, organic farming, and biodiversity, Farmers' Markets of the Heartland tantalizes with special recipes from farm-friendly chefs and dozens of luscious color photographs that will inspire you to harvest the homegrown flavors in your own neighborhood._x000B__x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09419-4
    Subjects: Sociology, Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    I cannot remember when I first started shopping at the farmers’ market, but I can tell you when my official food crush began. It must have been late May in the early 1990s at a farmers’ market in Chicago. Thinking about dinner, with my mindmaybeon carrots, I was confronted with a table filled with about twenty varieties of strawberries.

    This dizzying array of vibrant red was enough to make me weak at the knees. And they were friendly, too, labeled with enticing, come-hither names like Earliglow, Rosa Linda, Jewel.

    “Have a taste,” said grower Lloyd Nichols. No hand...

  4. Chicago
    (pp. 13-41)

    Because my romance with farmers began here, and because it was home base for my research road trip, we will begin in Chicago, the largest city in the Midwest. At first glance, Chicago’s urban canyons may not seem the most likely place to explore agriculture. But this metropolis is a center for food advocates dedicated to bringing fresh, nourishing food to its citizens. In fact, the dynamic local food culture in this city is in stark contrast to that of the vast rural regions, those remote areas of many heartland states where there are fewer small, diversified farms and thus...

  5. Michigan
    (pp. 43-67)

    My home state of Michigan may always be the Automobile State, no matter what the highs and lows of that industry are. It is the birthplace of the assembly line, and American carmakers are still based around Detroit. Men of a certain age—like my father—remember when new models traveled to dealerships shrouded in canvas so they could be unveiled all at once.

    And yet many people do not know that Michigan also is a food powerhouse, second only to California in terms of crop diversity. It is known predominantly for its fruit belt along the western side of...

  6. Ohio
    (pp. 69-93)

    Ohio is known for rolling hills, rich soil, and a deep agriculture history. The state presents a unique mix of markets located in urban alleys, in quiet neighborhoods, even in a national park. And Ohio ventured early into cottage laws, which allow food artisans, like bakers, to incubate businesses by selling at open-air markets. The best way to get to know the farmers and food producers in Ohio is to go shopping.

    A visit to this farmers’ market in the heart of a national park is worth the drive alone. A light fog clings to the treetops on an early...

  7. Indiana
    (pp. 95-113)

    Indiana’s local food community is so deep, there’s an entire book to describe it.Home Grown Indiana: A Food Lover’s Guide to Good Eating in the Hoosier Stateis written by university professors Christine Barbour of Indiana University (Bloomington) and Scott Hutchinson of Purdue. The authors remind us that every county in Indiana holds local treasures waiting to be tasted, and that one should look beyond the corn alongside the interstate highway to seek out flavorful foods.

    Yet as with other heartland states, or any state with rich soil that has been planted with monoculture crops, the goal of localizing...

  8. Illinois
    (pp. 115-139)

    In the 1970s, federal farm policy encouraged farmers to consolidate their crops and focus on commodities. Illinois farmers tell me that at that time, the United States Department of Agriculture decided the fertile soil of Illinois was best suited for corn and soybeans. In an ironic step, a state with great soil and ample water stopped producing food for people to eat and focused on commodity crops used primarily for manufacturing or for animal feed. But a few stubborn holdouts and some relative newcomers have created a portfolio of farms well suited to a robust farmers’ market scene, making Illinois...

  9. Missouri
    (pp. 141-160)

    Missouri is the Show Me State, and it certainly has a thing or two to show us about local food and small, diverse farms. And Missouri is no slouch when it comes to farmers’ markets, either. Anchored on either end by metropolises surrounded by rich farmland, Missouri is home to distinctive, energetic individuals who are making a name for the state in local eating. A common thread among the younger set of farmers and food artisans is that they left home seeking excitement, then returned to their roots.

    First, we arrive in St. Louis, with its iconic Gateway Arch designed...

  10. Iowa
    (pp. 163-180)

    I enter Iowa on a drenched day by crossing the mighty Mississippi River. Driving east on I-80, which bisects the state, I find farmers’ markets, big and small, that tell the story of this place. Even in the blustery drear, I am struck by the vibrant russet colors of the Iowa autumn.

    As I make my way across the wide state, thinking about how our country feeds itself, I came across a little-remembered story on my visit to West Branch, the birthplace of Herbert Hoover and site of his presidential library. It turns out that before he was president, he...

  11. Minnesota
    (pp. 183-201)

    Residents of warmer climates may expect little variety from Minnesota, but quite the opposite is true. Minnesota farmers offer a wide diversity of foods to sell at the farmers’ markets, including unexpected items like wild rice, house-milled flour, and pasture-raised bison. Farmers’ markets have been part of Minnesota life since settlement days—St. Paul’s city charter provided for a farmers’ market in 1854. And Minnesota is the home to the Honeycrisp apple, one of the greatest farmers’ market success stories.

    The locations of many Minnesota markets illustrate how settlements, and later cities, grew up near water. Many markets are held...

  12. Wisconsin
    (pp. 203-225)

    By the time our journey leads us to Wisconsin, it is clear that the Midwest has a dynamic local food scene, despite the challenges facing small farms. Every farmers’ market has vegetables and fruits; bakeries; often meat, poultry, and eggs; and sometimes locally roasted coffee—each market with its own story and distinctive collection of boosters and curmudgeons.

    Wisconsin’s distinction is having cheese, and lots of it. The state has more than 1.2 million dairy cows, many of them in small herds grazing on the rolling pasture. More than 90 percent of Wisconsin milk is made into cheese. A lot...

  13. What Is Next?
    (pp. 227-236)

    What is next for America’s farmers’ markets? The path was laid for the current explosion in 1976 by an act of Congress, which makes sense, given the back-to-the-land movement of the time, the elevation of food prices, and the disillusionment from the Vietnam War and Watergate.

    The farmers’ market phenomenon is fed by a classic duality of carrot-or-stick motivations. The carrot in this analogy is the allure of fresh, luscious, well-grown food, the relationship with local producers, and the feeling of participating in a healthful community and having relationships with people who live with their hands in the soil. The...

  14. Index
    (pp. 239-248)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 249-249)