Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Made in Wisconsin: the Largest Producer-Only Farmers' Market in the USA

"The Square."
After my niece's wedding last Friday, we had the opportunity to indulge ourselves in a classic Madison attraction, the Dane County Farmers' Market, on the Square.

"The Square," in case you're not from Wisconsin, refers to the large block square on which our State Capitol sits. And every Saturday of the Summer and Harvest Season, there is a Farmers' Market around the entire circuit of that block.
Typical Scene at the Farmers' Market.

The Dane County Farmers' Market is the largest "Producers-Only" Farmers' Market in the USA. In other words, every vendor there must be directly connected to the production of what they are selling. 

Virtually everything there is organic, either certified as such de iure or, though non-certified, de facto (official certification is expensive and cost-prohibitive for many smaller farmers).

Here's where we bought grass-fed beef.
Now, whether or not one could then call the official "Largest Producer-Only Farmers' Market" therefore to be "The Best" will be a matter of opinion. I'm not sure by what criteria one can really be better than ours. Maybe there's one in California that's bigger, but it's full of produce shipped from around the world? Maybe there's one in Iowa that's smaller but it's only certified organic?

And all that said, it's hard to imagine that some other country is hosting a larger "Producer-Only Farmers' Market." So it's probably the biggest and the big of its kind in the entire world.
My twin, his wife, and my wife.

Anyway, it's quite an experience. The Capitol Building is itself simply gorgeous and provides a majestic backdrop (as well as free restrooms) to the event.

I got a laugh from the vendor to the left. People from Wisconsin call people from Illinois "FIBs" (The "I" stands for Illinois. As there is no love between the two states, you can figure it out from there.). All of the celebrities depicted there are from the Chicago area. It's a tongue-in-cheek joke that their business name really stands for "Fine Italian Beef."

Here, my twin has cooked the zucchini and grass-fed beef we purchased at the Farmers' Market to perfection. A wonderful end to a wonderful day. And so great to be back, for however short a time, in Wisconsin.