When you travel, you probably want to make the most of your time there. You want to see the sights, experience the culture and get a true flavor of the new place you’re in, right? And, you know what, the best way to do that isn’t to always go see the most touristy spots or the best ranked restaurant (although that can be awesome). My favorite way to really see and get a feel for a new city is by visiting its farmers’ market.
Farmers’ markets provide an oasis of fresh leafy greens, full fruit and local staples that may be difficult to find in any other place. Local farmers’ markets (aka foodie heaven) have become one of my favorite places to visit wherever I travel. Jumping into a local market gives you direct access to a city’s food and culture. I recently visited Pike Place Market in Seattle, Wash., which tantalized my tastebuds with the Pacific West.
Pike Place Market overlooks Seattle’s Elliot Bay waterfront. A steady stream of people can be found entering local shops purchasing fresh food from local farmers. I stand immersed in a sea of people truly amazed at the amount of fresh and locally sourced food available to me (not to mention the insane amount of seafood that was caught earlier that morning).
Seafood is perhaps my favorite thing to eat, so I decide to take advantage of Pike Place’s large assortment. I walk over to Pike Place Fish Market stall captivated by employees playfully throwing fish to each other as a crowd cheers. The energy is lively. I find an employee smiling toward his coworkers and ask him for a single oyster on the half shell. He expertly draws his oyster knife and shucks a fresh Blue Pool Oyster — I slurp the salty, well-balanced delicacy.
Delighted, I make my way through the crowd venturing for other delicious snacks. I wander upon Pure Food Fish Market delighted to see an abundance of thick healthy pink smoked salmon. I purchase a quarter pound. The salmon’s light tender body has accents of cedar and lemon teasing my tongue. Pike Place has sufficiently filled my much-needed seafood fix.
Pike Place Market has an impressive amount of local organic fruits and veggies too but I have found Kansas City’s Farmers’ Market to have an equally tasty (although smaller) selection of locally and organically sourced produce. In the summer, a Kansas City’s River Market is a must — biting into a plump peach as sweet juice escapes my mouth and rolls down my chin marking the beginning of summer.
River Market is one of my favorite Kansas City summer spots. I can easily find a plethora of vegetables and fruits grown in America’s heartland. Unlike Pike Place Market, River Market has the benefit of being small. Visitors will find it easy to navigate through River Market while connecting with locals. Most farmers will happily tell you about their product and how it is produced.
Local markets provide healthy whole foods that can boost your physical health but they also provide something more — community. Farmers’ markets offer a network of locals who can connect you to their city. The food itself gives you a literal taste of wherever you are visiting. Next time you travel — be zen and let your inner foodie explore the local farmers’ market.
What’s the best farmers’ market you’ve ever been to? Seattle is up there for me! —Alex