Market Scene: Splintered Trees and the First Corn in Chicago

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I was woken up at approximately 1:30 on Wednesday morning by the sound of thunder and what looked like fireworks going off outside my window. When I raced over to the TV to check out what was going on, I saw a massive red blob stretching across nearly half the state, heading straight for Chicago. The storm had only begun. Somehow, I managed to continue sleeping through the storm and when I woke up later that morning, the sky was blue. I decided to head off to the farmers' market, not thinking that much about the storm.

I never imagined the storm would cause so much damage. As I walked up to Chicago's Green City Market, limbs covered the grass, enormous trees were downed, and some had been violently split. My thoughts went from, "What's fresh?" to, "Will the market even be open?"

Luckily, everything in the market was set up. Besides a few twigs I had to step around, the market was in top shape and had a lot to give.

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Nearly every stand had a pile of corn sitting out front, ready for the picking. The corn was almost exclusively sweet bi-color. Nichol's Farm and Orchard from Marengo, Illinois, told me that no other kinds of corn would arrive, but I could "expect a lot more corn in the future."

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Nichol's Farm and Orchard also had some delicious looking Pristine apples, which were one of the very few eating apples available at the market.

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My next stop was the stall by Iron Creek Farm from Saint Joseph, Michigan. They had loads of green beans and broccoli. I picked up a box of green beans and stared down some of the perfect looking lettuces before moving on.

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Green Acres Farm in North Judson, Indiana, had impressed me last time with their carrots, cucumbers, and potatoes. This time they were stocked full with mounds of fresh beans and lots and lots of tomatoes. Most of the tomatoes available were sweet and on the smaller end, like Sun Golds, Yellow Pears, and Sun Sugars.

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I also shelled out for some borlotti beans and Japanese eggplants,. If only I had had the the nerve to buy an Armenian cucumber the size of my arm—the sign promised that the cucumbers would be "Delicious, sweet, crisp!"

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My last stop was Prairie Pure Cheese, for the purpose of trying their free samples. I have a natural reaction against cheese at farmers' markets—most of the cheeses at these places taste like rubber, or are supposed to be sautéed (honestly)—and I figured these cheese would be no different. But I was quite impressed with the aged swiss. I talked to Brian Gerloff, who is the veterinarian for two dairy farms, and sells the cheese made from the two farms to help support the farms. He's doing a great job.

With all the damage done, it wasn't exactly a beautiful market visit. I was just surprised so many people showed up to sell the goods after having probably incurred damage on their own property.

Produce Guide

In Season

Bi-color corn Small tomatoes Eggplant Lettuce First apples Green beans

Coming Soon

More corn More apples Large tomatoes Watermelon