The farmers’ market scene in Dallas, surprisingly, is a little lacking. For a city with such a reputation as a foodshed, Dallas’ farmers’ markets are a little more hit-and-miss. There are several excellent neighborhood markets, but many of them only operate on the weekends. If you find yourself with a craving for fresh okra or the perfect heirloom tomato on a Wednesday, you’ve got to head to the Dallas Farmers Market, just a quick walk away from Downtown.
The Dallas Farmers Market, the oldest in the area, is currently in a major time of transition. Formerly owned by the city, the Market was purchased by a private company last year, and is undergoing massive renovations. Before the renovations began, ther market consisted of three covered sheds. One housed restaurants, meat purveyors, and other vendors. Another was a place for large-scale produce distributors to sell directly to consumers. The final, and least populated shed, was for local farmers.
Now, there is only one. “The Shed,” as it has since been christened, is open five days a week. Most vendors only come on the weekends, when the crowds are much thicker. Even though there are fewer farmers than ever at this point in the history of the Dallas Farmers Market, the quality has improved dramatically. There are no more containers of Del Monte tomatoes or Driscoll’s strawberries — only locally grown, fresh-picked produce.
And what is there is truly impressive. Piles of vibrant green beans, perfectly-ripe peaches, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, and plenty more interesting finds are still very much on offer at the Dallas Farmers Market.
Amy McCarthy is Paste’s Assistant Food Editor. She enjoys pickling everything she can find at the farmers’ market. Find her on Twitter @aemccarthy.
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The Dallas Farmers Market has seen a lot of change in its 74-year history. Originally opened in 1941 and city-owned, the Market was recently sold to a private company and is under heavy renovation.
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Pickles are a must-buy at the farmer's market. This batch of locally-made T-Rex Pickles, ranging from spicy green beans and smoked jalapeños to mint & juniper pickled cucumbers, was crafted from produce purchased on-site at the Dallas Farmer's Market. T-Rex also uses beer from Four Corners Brewing just a few miles away in their pickle-making.
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East Texas tomatoes are a legendary snack during the state's long, hot summers. Often served sliced with just a sprinkling of salt, these heirloom and cherry tomatoes were perfectly ripe.
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Okra, with its relatively short growing season and delicate nature, is also a popular summer veggie in Dallas. Charred simply on the grill or breaded in cornmeal and fried in traditional Southern fashion, you can't beat fresh okra this time of year.
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Even if you think that you hate peas, purple hulls and creamer peas will totally change your mind. Their soft, fluffy insides are perfect after stewing all day on the stove with a smoked turkey wing or ham hock. If it's too hot to leave the stove on all day, summer is a great time to stock up on these seasonal peas. They freeze well and make a hearty meal during the winter months.
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Thanks to restrictions on the sale of raw, non-homogenized goat's milk at farmers markets, many producers get creative in how they sell their wares. This booth's goat's milk lotions, soaps, and natural pet remedies are a popular stop for weekend market shoppers.
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Eggs are always an excellent choice at the farmer's market. The rich yolks that result from actual free-range raising are unparalleled by anything in the industrial food complex. You're even luckier if you can find locally-raised duck and quail eggs, honey, and naturally-raised meats all in the same place.
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It might not be Georgia, but Texas has plenty of great peaches. These small-but-sweet delicacies are so ripe that it's best to consume them on the day of purchase. Or in the car on the way home.
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Most farms at the Dallas Farmers Market don't sell USDA Certified Organic produce, but only because they can't justify the expensive certification process. These peaches, tomatoes, green beans, and potatoes were all grown without harmful pesticides, and are much fresher and more flavorful than anything you'll find at Whole Foods.
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Fresh zucchini is abundant this time of year, but the golden variety is a little more rare. These massive, freshly grown zucchinis have a distinct flavor that is much different than the yellow crookneck squash they resemble. Sautéed briefly in a pan or grilled lightly, golden zucchini is an ideal summer side dish.