Farmers' Markets of the Heartland
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Series: Heartland Foodways
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 mind maybe on carrots...
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...
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...
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...
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 State is written by university professors Christine Barbour of Indiana University (Bloomington) and Scott Hutchinson of Purdue. The authors remind us...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
What Is Next?
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...