Farmers Market – Baltimore

Posted: April 14, 2014 in Food Review, Wonderful Humans
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Spring has spring and oh, it is a wonderful and beautiful feeling!

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Yesterday, in the spirit of all things “springy”, I visited the Baltimore Farmers Market which is located beneath the I-83 Expressway. I was happy to see that many of the vendors from the year before were there and prices were very good, as always. I was a little sad to see less produce (fruits and veggies) as last year but I was reminded that it’s still early in the season so abundant fruits and veggies will be coming my way soon and I certainly cannot wait. The scents were overwhelming at first in a not-so-good way with a blast of fried foods, eggs cooking and that wet, outdoor, protein-rich scent where puddles of water had gathered as the vendors with cooked food products were set up. However, once we walked past that section, the scents of cheeses and fresh bread hit me which, the carb whore in me suddenly perked up and my mood was immediately elevated to new levels. It’s amazing how the feel of a cool, smooth, flawless kale leaf, the firm feel of sweet onions, or the sweet cream in those old-fashioned milk bottles can make me appreciate the animals, and earth from which we gain nourishment. So while there wasn’t as large of a selection from which to choose, I did not leave empty handed; in fact, we made two trips to the car. Besides, isn’t that what a Farmers Market is for? To get creative and get some ideas about food for the week that you may be lucky enough to change up next week!

Below are seven helpful hints of things I’ve learned from experience (and inexperience!) but before I get to that, here’s my usual “Good, Bad and Ugly” breakout:

The Good:

  • Most vendors were pleasant and seemed happy to be there. I will definitely return with much cash to encourage the feeling of happiness and warmth when interacting with these awesome folks. As I go there more this year, I will share more about the individual vendors…
  • The food was so fresh and so clean, clean!! The fish smelled and looked fresh, as did the buffalo, kale, collard greens, onions (red and sweet), sweet (heavy) cream, half and half, pressed olive oil, and avocado honey, among other products.
  • The co$t of all items I listed above were about a hundred dollars and twenty dollars. Yes! I got all of that for $100! Suck it, Whole Foods and Harris Teeter!! MUAHAHA
  • There’s not only produce and meat, there’s soaps, jewelry, clothing, and an entire section with cooked breakfast and lunch items, including coffee, delicious little donuts (that were featured on the Baltimore news recently for their tastiness), freshly made smoothies and juices, sandwiches, omelets, etc.
  • Abu the flutemaster. This gentleman at the opening close to the I-83 exit makes all of his instruments from PVC pipes, plastic funnels, etc., he plays them well and they sound very good!
  • The connections with people. I randomly met a Facebook friend in person and was able to share a few minutes of conversation and camaraderie.

The Bad:

  • If you’re not a morning person (which I’m not!) the “getting there” aspect is a bit tough on a Sunday. The vendors are there from ~7 AM to 12 noon. So don’t go partying like a rock star on Saturday night unless you’re in your 20s still and can do that sort of thing on two hours of sleep. 🙂
  • Sometimes parking can be a pain but if you plan it right (see the helpful hints below), you can walk a few blocks with ease and not worry about the parking.
  • For some, there may be an issue with the number of homeless people who are around asking for money or food. I’m not bothered by a homeless person and prefer to give food, etc., but some of the people I’ve encountered in the past can be very demanding while others aren’t rude or abusive.
  • There were two vendors who didn’t make my “pleasant” cut.
    • One was just kind of “cutting” with her tone because I pronounced the name of some greens inaccurately (my tongue was not feeling the word, “Mesclun” at o’dark thirty AM. She said it was because she had just taken a swig of a potent smoothie, which was fine if that’s the case, but I felt like I was being judged a bit by my inability to state my order. I ended up just pointing to the wretchedly worded greenery as I asked sheepishly for a pound of it.
    • The other vendor was the Caribbean food vendor who sold cooked items. This man was rude and even if his products weren’t dry and overly seasoned (I promise you that the statement is accurate and not based on his demeanor. After all, I know my Caribbean items!), I will not spend my money or recommend his products. Unfortunately, he may have been from an Island and I had to sigh at my Caribbean peeps and their ‘tudes. Why? Here’s a play-by-play:
      • Me: Is the Caribe pollo item spicy?
      • Vendor: The ingredients are listed right there.
      • Me: What kind of… [as I raised my arm to point to the part of the sign that said, “peppers” I was immediately cut off]
      • Vendor: Right there. It’s listed there. Not spicy. [giving me an irritated look as if I asked if he had washed his hands before serving the food or something offensive]. Either way, he appeared aggravated that I didn’t just place an order and move on. Apparently, this someone had watched a little too much, “Soup Nazi” Seinfeld episodes!
      • Me: Okay, well your ingredients list peppers and I need to know what kind.
      • Vendor: Oh, multi type. Sweet peppers.
      • Me: Okay, that’s all I wanted to know. I’ll take it. [Thinking, “was that so freekin hard!? I’m never going to spend my money here again.”]

The Ugly:

  • There is nothing ugly about this Farmers Market thus far!

 Natasha’s Helpful Hints

  1. Get there before 9 AM if you want parking spots relatively close to the market. This Baltimore Farmers Market It’s located below the I-83 expressway ramp so while it’s convenient to access, remember to pay attention to the metered parking signs and parking lots that clearly warn you against parking in them or you may be ticketed and/or towed. It’s in the heart of the city and tow truck drivers don’t seem to sleep.
  2. Take ca$h! Most of these vendors do not accept credit cards for small purchases. Many take cards for larger purchases like the items for $25 and up, etc. but for the most part, cash is king there.
  3. Take large cloth carrying bags. They have soft handles that are more comfortable for walking longer distances, and you can place a lot of the smaller bags of items you purchase.
  4. Return your empty cream, milk and olive oil bottles to the vendor for saving$!
    1. The creamery vendor took $2 off the purchase when they have their glass bottle back.
    2. The olive oil vendor takes $5 or so dollars off the purchase when you return the olive oil glass jar.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes! Sometimes with all the walking on an uneven surface, with dogs, children and crowds, your feet will be stepped on and it’s not a club people…don’t go getting mad when people accidentally step on your toes. It can get pretty hot with large crowds of people so dress for summer time.
  6. If you don’t like a vendor’s attitude or products, walk around. Chances are, there are more vendors selling the same products. You’re there for a good deal and fresh produce. Scope out the competition. But please remember that the vendors need to make money too and they’re often better and fresher than the supermarket chains so don’t be a cheap bastard and get upset with the prices if they’re mostly consistent. If you really think they’re expensive, leave and go to your supermarket. Don’t make the experience a bad one for others.
  7. Smile! Talk with the vendors only if they’re not busy. I’ve found that everyone (except the two I mentioned above in the “bad” section), were willing to tell me about their products, such as, the day the fish were picked up from the fishermen, the small business fees when paying with a credit card, etc.

Have you been to the Farmers Market in your town or neighboring city? Or the one in Baltimore and/or DC? Tell me about it!

Happy Spring!

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Comments
  1. Leslie Jay says:

    Nice write-up, Natasha. What exit off of 83 is this?

    • Thank you, Leslie! Take 83 to Guilford exit and then drive straight ahead on Guildford for about 3 mins. (2-3 lights?)going towards Holliday and then Saratoga. Park on left if you can the block before Saratoga or so and then walk to the corner of where the 83 exit at Holliday is located. Youll see people and the tents. Or, take the Holliday st exit and then park anywhere around Saratoga. Fayette is an option too for parking, just further to walk…

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