By Sarah Corbin
This past Saturday I attended the Winter Farmer's Market at Unity Temple - supported by the Sugar Beet Co-Op and Faith in Place.
The Winter Farmer's Markets that pop up at some our local churches from November through March mean I get to buy organic winter spinach even though I've missed deadlines for joining any kind of winter CSA.
I love winter veggies. Winter spinach, kale, carrots are fabulous organic winter treats you have to savor. The cooler weather that forces some veggies into cold "sweetening" is the best tasting natural self defense mechanism ever. Some plants store more glucose or fructose in their cells to keep from freezing. Vegetables like spinach, kale, beets, carrots and even potatoes are a little less bitter and more delicious in the winter.
There are other fun finds at the market too. It's not just the vegetable stand.
The mushroom folks from River Valley Ranch and Kitchens come out for each market. This year I purchased a mushroom kit AGAIN. We did this as a family through the winter a year or so ago. Watching a mushroom grow from a tiny cremini to a HUGE portobello in a day while you have been at school or work is pretty fabulous.
The honey folks, with honey and soap, are at the market. If you drive out to the next market in Park Ridge this week, those soaps are great Valentines Day purchases.
Our favorite, Three Queens, local maple syrup makes an appearance at the markets. (Organic Valentine's breakfast in bed? Yes please!)
In addition you can purchase non GMO popcorn from Brian Severson Farms in Grundy County. There is salsa, pesto, fresh meats, some knitted apparel, and fresh nunly baked goods. A complete list of vendors is available at FaithinPlace.org.
There is another Oak Park market coming up on February 15 at Euclid Avenue Methodist Church. Or if you are up for a little Saturday morning drive you can check out FaithinPlace.org for a listing of the other Chicago area locations. Next week's is at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Park Ridge. I may just make the trip for this one - our winter kale disappeared in one meal.
I have to give a big THANK YOU to my friend Eileen Moloney who took photos for Sugar Beet Co-Op and then let me use them here. And thank goodness for Sugar Beet too. Cheryl Munoz was, of course, on hand for a bit of education and to update our local community on Sugar Beet Co-Op progress. The market was pretty busy too - I'm sure in part to Sugar Beet's extra promotion of the annual event.
No worries - I'll post some pictures on the blog of those mushrooms as they grow - just for fun.