to the farmers markets of chicago

tis the season

Dear Farmers Markets of Chicago,

 Thank you for bringing me so much joy on sunny mornings in the city. Thank you for teaching me how to appreciate fresh produce, support local organizations and enjoy spending time outside. Thank you for introducing me to the idea of having paella and raclette be farmers market regulars. 

It’s ironic that I only started frequenting farmers markets in Chicago, when I’ve spent the past 15 years of my life living in a place where weather allows for year round outdoor markets. Nothing deters me from trekking over to a farmers market like thinking about finding street parking. Even thinking about it is exhausting. It also feels like an occasion, as many things do in LA. After all, east siders get dressed to be seen at the Silver Lake farmers market. 

Then again, perhaps it was simply the genuine enthusiasm of Chicagoans basking in summer sun that rubbed off on me. 

So every Saturday morning, donned in my own Atwater best, I’d slip out the back door, down the stairs, cross the street, stop by La Colombe to grab a cold brew to carry me down the block to the Division Street market.

The market spans only two blocks, with just enough to fill my tote as I loop around back to the apartment. I have to admit, my taste buds have been spoiled with California produce, but I still can’t help but buy into the romance of local farms as I purchase baskets of Michigan cherries and reach for more summer squashes.

Not pictured: paella man and his giant steaming pan of paella filling the street with savory spices every Saturday morning.

Plus, Chicago farmers markets are only half about the produce. The more exciting part is the food. In fact, food takes up most of the real estate in the Lincoln Park market, enough to inspire the trek out (ok, it was but a 15 minute walk away, but still). After all, it just feels luxurious to have raclette served from a stand. Not to mention all of the samples you can use as appetizers just from making a round through the market. 

But truly, the best part about farmers markets in Chicago is the atmosphere. Everyone seems so excited to be there. It’s crowded, people are chatting up with friends, vendors. Dogs and children are abundant. You can tell it’s a part of the collective summer routines, but also so cherished each time. Farmers market season in Chicago is finite, generally spanning from May through October, a welcomed indicator of summer. Between markets and neighborhood festivals, the city really gives you every excuse to spend time outside and participate in Summer, even when it feels like an armpit outside. 

So thank you, markets of Chicago, for the infecting this homebody with summertime happiness.

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