Monday, July 21, 2008

Intermediate Sprint: Au Marché

New Jersey is nicknamed the Garden State.Farmer's market It was no less a sage than Benjamin Franklin (a U.S. Ambassador to France) who likened the state to an immense barrel, filled with good things, open at both ends, with New York eating out of one end and Philadelphia eating out of the other. So for the Tour de France KAL second intermediate sprint, the regional challenge, I'm taking the cycling option and showing a favorite local destination, the Montclair Farmer's Market.

Serious shoppers require serious equipment for such a trip. I zip-tie a milk crate to my rear rack, which accommodates two full-sized grocery bags. There's even room for a small cooler, should I purchase something that should be kept on ice. A cargo net protects purchases from shifting and from road grit on the way home.

Bike with milk crate

ThereBike parking usually are 12 vendors at the market, offering a dazzling range of New Jersey produce – fruits, vegetables, fish and shellfish, fresh meat and poultry, sausage, bacon, eggs, honey, herbs, flowers, baked goods, and prepared foods and wine. Almost everything is locally grown or harvested; some vendors accept WIC coupons. The market is handicapped accessible. There's live music. Parking is free; unlike drivers, cyclists have their pick of the shady spots.

I love the market. Not only are the goods exceptionally fresh, like these choice fruits


or like the impeccably fresh dayboat fish and shellfish,

Fresh fish

or are hard-to-find, like these red currants,

Red currants

but even the most ordinary items, such as these bulb onions, are presented in ways one never sees in grocery stores.


There's certified organic produce from Starbrite Farm, managed by the sexy beast of the farmers' market, John Krueger (not my type, but you oughta see the way some soccer moms drool), and much more.

Certified organic

But perhaps the most exciting thing about the farmers' market is how it allows people to eat both well and good, how it reconnects people with the land and its seasonal rhythms, and how it supports small, local farms. French people have always known about the gout de terroir, have always been discerning to the point of fanaticism about regional specialties. It's a more recent learning for many people in the U.S., a shift from the relentless drive that equates cheaper with better and ultimately reduces everything – even living things – to a product for mindless consumption.


I like to think knitters (and cyclists, too) have an intuitive understanding and appreciation of creativity and produce over and against ravening consumerism. It may be as mundane as a desire for healthier, tastier eats or as profoundly radical as stewardship of the earth – however that may be, Allez les bleues!


Anonymous said...

jersey knitter is making needleglyphs very hungry with this post

roxy =^o^= said...

What a great post. I really miss fresh NJ produce.

Bezzie said...

Oh hot dang! Guess who's hitting this place after her marriage shrinky-dink appointment in Upper Montclair next Saturday? Bloomfield's Farmers Market was a disappointment. Not in their offerings, but their timing for working folk.

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I wish we had one here :( GREAT Post!!

But, you forgot to post a pic of John Krueger ::gg:: or did you hide it somewhere?

Deborah said...

hey, montclair has a better market than ridgewood - what's up with that? We don't have seafood or meat. We do have cannolis so I shouldn't complain.

Meg said...

Thank you for that classic image of all the soccer moms drooling over the farmers market organic-produce selling hottie. sadly nothing of the sort has attracted my attention at my local market!

Kelli Simone said...

Awesome post. I missed you last week. I wish I could ride my bike but I think the commute in the sun might be too much.

Did you get anything from the fish guy? ~ksp

Daniele said...

Wow. Good stuff! I wish we had a farmers' market like that! I would need a very large basket. :)

Daniele aka

knitseashore said...

The farmer's markets are so awesome this time of year. I love those blueberries especially!! Would love to see a photo of that hot farmer too!

Kim said...

So what do they sell in the Port-O-let in the third photo? hahaha! I'd like to check out the market this Saturday, especially the hot farmer. Ain't nothing like a hot farmer. Saturday Organic EyeCandy.
Hmm, maybe I'll subway it up to Union Sq. Greenmarket tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration!

gemma said...

yum! looks fabulous.

CathyAnn said...

Looks yummy. I haven't taken my bike to our local market yet, but I took a step and mapped out a route that avoids the bad pavement and heavy traffic. It's a start!

Jessica said...

Our Farmer's Market kind of sucks. May have to try yours next time around. Looks fab!

Lisa said...

Yummy! I'll have to check it out next time I'm down visiting.