Shopping The Farmers Market Safely During COVID-19 + Seasonal Dishes Created With My Bounty From The Mill City Farmers Market

“If you ate today, thank a farmer” ~ Author Unknown

Farmers are the chief essential officers and caretakers of our food supply and they should be celebrated as such. During this pandemic, adaptability and nimbleness have become essential to their survival, and ours. The fallout from COVID-19 has illuminated the critical nature of acquainting ourselves with exactly where our food comes from and how to access it.  Our support for those who grow and source it is imperative.  Farmers markets are categorized as essential grocery providers and have historically been a place for community to gather.  They are the conduit to a healthy diet and now more than ever, they are one of the vital connections that link consumers to their local food chain.

I have always relished the chance to meander the farmers market aisles, and during the winter months in Minnesota I daydream about it often.  It’s an adventure for the senses.  I love looking at the vibrant colors of the produce/flowers and other tempting provisions while listening to the food centric conversations between shoppers & sellers. These are some of the real life rythms of “farm to table” in action.  In these difficult times, these rituals have the ability to give us a comforting sense of familiarity, while at the same time accentuating the resiliance of our local food system.

This virus has made it necessary for many farmers to reach consumers in inventive and non-traditional ways.  Online pre-ordering is just one efficient option that didn’t exist in many areas prior to this pandemic and the Mill City Farmers Market (MCFM) was one of the first in Minneapolis to offer this opportunity.

Last week I shopped the Mill City Farmers Market in Minneapolis, virtually and in person.  I pre-ordered my eggs, bacon, baked goods, cheese and breakfast online.  Pickup at the market was straightforward and easy.  I also bought several items directly from vendors as a walk up customer.  I love that market goers are given the option to excercise what method works best for them.  For me, it was a blend of both.

The Mill City Farmers market has a plethora of important initiatives in place that support the community as a whole.  They also have clearly stated rules that have been implemented to facilitate a high level of customer and vendor safety during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Greens For Good Food Donation Program

Greens for Good is the MCFM-CF’s produce donation program. We work with Augsburg University, community members and Delta Dental of Minnesota to purchase produce from our farmers and distribute it to families and individuals living in affordable housing communities in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. 

Since 2013, Mill City Farmers Market has been working with staff and students from Augsburg University’s Campus Kitchen and Health Commons collecting excess produce from farmers at the end of the market. Farmers give fruits and vegetables that didn’t sell, CSA boxes that didn’t get picked up, produce that won’t survive the drive home or last until their next market. The market is able to manage this program and purchase produce from farmers thanks to a generous sponsorship from Delta Dental of Minnesota.

From July to October, volunteers collect over 6,000 pounds of Mill City Farmers Market produce that they bring and give away in CSA-style bags to families and individuals in affordable housing communities in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Campus Kitchen donates any leftover produce to the Brian Coyle Community Center in Cedar-Riverside or to Minnesota Central Kitchen  ~ Mill City Farmers Market Website

In June, the market expanded its Greens for Good food donation program and partnered with six other non-profit organizations to found the Local Emergency Assistance Farmer Fund (LEAFF) to help small-scale producers, particularly emerging and BIPOC farmers, survive financial loss due to the pandemic. Both projects are supporting farmers and eaters by purchasing produce at market prices and distributing it to communities facing food insecurity.

SNAP RECIPIENTS

For instructions on placing a preorder and paying with your EBT card, please visit each vendor’s preorder page. Most vendors are accepting preorders from SNAP recipients via email, which you can pay for at the market with EBT tokens and Market Bucks purchased from the market Information Booth. For questions on this process please email us at info@millcityfarmersmarket.org or give us a call at (612) 341-7580  ~ Mill City Farmers Market Website

Below are the market rules and a few photos of the important measures in place to keep customers and vendors as safe as possible.

Market Rules

  • Stay home if you are sick
  • 8-9 AM is for at-risk shoppers
  • Wear a face mask or covering
  • Maintain 6′ distance from others
  • No Dogs
  • Limit Shoppers to 1 if possible
  • Don’t touch. Let vendors serve you
  • No eating onsite.  Takeout is available from vendors at 2nd street and Chicago Ave.
  • Limit socializing
  • Shop Efficiently.  Pre-order online and shop with a grocery list

 

Dishes that I created with my MCFM bounty

Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Pecans

Roasting beets is so easy!  I had a bunch of 3 for this salad (see photos below)

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wipe beets clean and rub each one generously with olive oil.
  3. Wrap each one individually in foil, place on a baking sheet and roast for at least 45 minutes.
  4. You can tell they are done when tender ( they should pierce easily with a fork or knife) don’t let them roast long enough to get mushy.
  5. Remove from the oven and partially unwrap.  Let them rest until they are cool. Peel, slice and add to the greens.
  6. I already had an arugula and spinach blend, goat cheese and some leftover candied pecans on hand so I simply sliced the beets and combined them with those ingredients.  Let creativity be your guide, you can use a multitude of different greens, nuts, cheeses (ie: feta, blue etc…)
  7. The vinaigrette I used was orange citrus.

Salsa 

If you’ve got a favorite salsa recipe, the farmers market is the perfect place to source those ingredients!  I used the gorgeous tomatoes, green onions, garlic and spicy peppers from my Saturday morning trip to the market.  I don’t follow a recipe for my homemade salsa, I tend to chop, process and season as I go.

I served the salsa with guacamole and grain free tortilla chips from The Real Coconut

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Fried Stuffed Squash Blossoms

I’ll admit I was a bit intimated to make these fried squash blossoms.  They look so delicate but they are actually quite sturdy, and stuffing & frying them was not difficult.  I followed this recipe from allrecipes.  Make sure to view the accompanying video.  There are several good tips that will help if you are a first timer like me.

In terms of storage, I didn’t use the fresh blossoms the first day so I lined a container with paper towel, spritzed it lightly with water and arranged the blossoms in a row.  I topped them with a second slightly damp paper towel and covered the container tightly.   I refigerated them overnight and the next day they were not at all wilted, they still looked perfect and were ready to stuff.

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Cheeseburger Sliders topped with Bacon & Sunny-Side Up Eggs

I pre-ordered the eggs and bacon for these burgers from Sunshine Harvest Farm

I grilled the burgers and topped them in this order:

  • Burger
  • 2 slices of Crispy Sunshine Harvest Farm Bacon
  • 1 thin slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1 sunny side up egg

Sunshine Harvest Farm offers: Pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic free, grass fed beef, pork, lamb, chicken and eggs.

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I was able to pre-order baked goods online from Solomons Bakery and Breakfast from the Chef Shack food truck for take away.

The shopping bag in the photo below is from Lakewinds Food Co-op

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Founded in 2006 by acclaimed local restaurateur Brenda Langton and the Mill City Museum, Mill City Farmers Market is Minneapolis’ trusted source for healthy, local and organic groceries. Located next to the Guthrie Theater on 2nd Street S. and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis’ Downtown East neighborhood, the market is open through the pandemic every Saturday May-October from 8am to 1pm.  All vendors are offering traditional walk-up sales and many are also offering online preorders at millcityfarmersmarket.org/preorder. Cash, credit cards and SNAP/EBT all accepted.  ~Jenny Heck, Market Manager

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Make sure to visit your local farmers market soon and often.  Click here for the Minnesota Farmers Market Association (MFMA) market list to find the one nearest you.

“Farm to Table…Ocean to Fork…and Grain to Glass.  We cast our votes in favor of the planet one bite, one sip at a time” ~ Lisa Patrin

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