Feature photo by theregeneration

Winter is finally over! As a Chicagoan, I know that here, in the final weeks of May, the odds of our city getting another freak snowstorm is considerably less-likely. Note, I say “less-likely” and not “un-likely.” May of 1940, Chicago got 2.2 inches of snowfall.

One of my favorite ways of welcoming in the warm spring months is visiting local farmer’s markets. Why eat the supermarket or big-box produce being shipped in from Chile when you can have local and regional-grown fruits and veggies? Put those mealy apples and tart strawberries away! It’s time for good ol’ Midwestern produce.

It has never been easier to buy fresh, local, and often organic produce and other food products in a market environment. All over the city and the suburbs, neighborhoods and towns are coordinating farmer’s markets. They often take place mornings and afternoons once every weekend.

Green City Farmer’s Market is located between Clark and Stockton Drives (at the south end of Lincoln Park). It is a large, well organized market that has been around since 1998. This is, officially, Chicago’s only year-round outdoor farmer’s market, and GCM’s summer visitors number in the tens of thousands. Other neighborhoods boast markets with growing popularity, as well. Pilsen’s Community Farm Market runs every Sunday from 9 am until 3 pm June through October and they don’t just offer raw produce. Coffee, flowers, freshly baked bread, and homemade sweets are just a few of the other items this market offers. These are just two of the numerous community markets locals are frequenting! Check out localharvest.org for more!

The Loop seems like a surprising place to find farmer’s markets, but amidst all the hustle and bustle, people are craving fresh fruit, honey, and other local products. Daley Plaza, Prudential Plaza, Willis Tower, and Federal Plaza depart from the usual weekend market schedule and bring freshness to the weekdays. So, if you work in the Loop or find yourself down there on a Tuesday or Thursday, head to one of these locations!

I hate to remind you of the cold season, but since we’re on the topic of markets I have to add this bit of information: if you’re looking for fresh and local products during the winter months, Churches’ Center for Land and People (CCLP) in partnership with Faith in Place, hold markets in different church halls and recreation spaces November through April. They include diverse and numerous products such as soap, meat, poultry, wool, cheeses, dried fruit, and cold weather vegetables (kale, cabbage, lettuce, etc.).

Get to it, fellow city dwellers! Step out of the grocery stores and into the fantastic farmers markets that dot Chicago’s urban landscape.

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