“If you spend $100 at a grocery store, only $25 stays here. If you spend $100 at a farmers market, $62 goes back into the local economy — and $99 out of $100 stays in the state. So, where do you want your money to go?” –Cowtown Farmers Market website
Let’s be honest, the Cowtown Farmers Market was having a party last Saturday. If I were an objective sort of a person, I probably should have gone on an average Saturday. But, I suspect that the only difference on an average Saturday is a little less music and perhaps (cue my children groaning) a lack of balloons and face painting. And, by the way, the music was fantastic.
What makes the Cowtown market unique and very high on my list of local markets? They are a dyed in the wool, authentic, local market. All of the produce must be grown within 150 miles of the market. There is no re-selling. You will not find pineapples at the Cowtown Farmers Market. And if strawberries are not in season, you will not find them, either. This market dances with the seasons. There are a few folks selling non-produce goods, but they too must adhere to the 150 mile rule. They must be the maker, and they must make the product within 150 miles.
This past weekend was the Summer Festival. And when we showed up at 9:30 it was bustling. It was not sprawling by any means, but there was one farm family after another. It was one of the best of the area markets in terms of produce vendors. Fort Worth has declared this week Eat Local Week. The goal is to draw attention to local farmers and businesses, including food artisans and restaurants. This is a great way to support a local economy and encourage people to learn about where they really get their food. One of the restaurant names mentioned often at the market was Brownstone. And I understand they are hosting an Eat Local dinner on Thursday night. They are creating a special menu to support local producers and suppliers.
Sometimes I am shocked at what I miss by cooking at home all of the time, and I think it is time for me to have a 3 night reservation with my babysitter and head over with Pitts to Ft. Worth to go to Bonnell’s, Ellerbe’s and Brownstone. Why have I not done this? I wish we could get a three night rental of the funky little apartment off of Camp Bowie where we used to live. Fort Worth is a wonderful town and we out-of-towners really all need to spend some time there. I like the 150 mile rule because that makes trips to Ft. Worth “local” from my family’s perspective and I like that.
Bud Kennedy, who writes for the Ft. Worth Star Telegram was strolling through the market with his lovely wife, Shelly Seymour. He wrote a piece on the Eat Local movement in Fort Worth, commenting on how “local” in Texas has now become more than (but certainly still happily boasts) “BBQ, Tex-Mex and fried.”
For added fun, there were cooking demonstrations. I watched Chef Heather Kurima artfully prepare a dish over bubbling pans, while her companions from the Culinary School of Fort Worth chopped and chatted with we passers-by. It smelled so lovely. If you want to understand if the chefs love this market, here is a hint. By the time we arrived it was already pushing 100 degrees and we saw no fewer than 7 or 8 chefs walking around in their long sleeve white jackets promoting the market in one way or another. Heather, was doubly impressive, because she was doing it over a mobile stove set-up. It was like Ginger Rogers dancing backwards in heels. Hot devotion. You must know by now how I feel about chefs who readily share their knowledge with the community.
Jon Bonnell was there with a rapidly disappearing stack of his excellent cookbook. Chefs from Brownstone were hauling away boxes of produce. And Molly McCook of Ellerbee’s judged a very impressive field of pictures colored by the kids in attendance. Ford was overjoyed to win second place for the 6 year olds. Let’s just say, he’s made huge strides with his art in the last few months. We expect great things.
What did I buy this week? I bought a gorgeous seedless watermelon. I bought some really wonderful goat cheese from Latte Da Dairy and I even got to see photos of the sweet little goats that caused my cheese to come into being. Our friend, Richard, is now planning a trip to Latte Da Dairy for some fresh goat milk too. My kids love fresh goat milk but due to state rules, they cannot sell it at the market. The goat milk issue could be its very own post. It is an interesting topic. But either Richard or Pitts heads out to one of the local producers every few weeks to procure a whole lot of goat milk. One of these days, I’m going to make some cheese, myself.
I also bought cinnamon bombs from the Artisan Baking Company. We wiped those little muffins out within 3 minutes of getting home. They also had Snickerdoodle biscotti that looked like something I could get used to pretty quickly.
In addition to what I have mentioned, and a Kettle Corn vendor who were making the whole parking lot smell like heaven, Cowtown Farmers Market regularly boasts the following produce vendors, many of whom were in attendance this past weekend:
Doak Orchards from Bowie, Texas
Beth and Wayne Murphy
Little Ranch (Elpidio Gallardo, Wise County)
B & G Gardens
Texas Prairie Farms
Non-produce vendors include:
Artisan Baking Company
Robert’s Relish Barn
That is a pretty compelling list, I think. So, consider this one on my “must return often” list. And if this market is close-by for you, get out there and support it. We all benefit from a vibrant and healthy farmers markets.
Other great area markets I’ve been to so far include:
- Dallas Farmers Market
- Frisco Farmers Market
- McKinney Farmers Market
- Celebration Farmers Market, Dallas
- Coppell Farmers Market
- Grand Prairie Farmers Market
- White Rock Local Market
Get out there friends!