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Marcus’ Pop Food: Harlem Farmer’s Markets

By Marcus Samuelsson | November 4, 2010

Every Thursday, check out “Marcus’ Pop Food” where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the hot food topic that’s piquing my interest each week. This week, I want to discuss farmer’s markets in my neighborhood.

Now that we’re approaching winter and the handful of farmer’s markets in the area have shut down, I can’t help but eagerly wait for the weather to get warmer, when I can stroll to the Morningside Park Farmer’s Market or Harlem Harvest Market in Marcus Garvey Park with my wife on the weekend.

No more than a decade ago, most of us resorted to visiting the beautiful yet too popular Union Square Green Market or venturing upstate or to New Jersey.

I’m excited to see that not only are there green markets above 96th Street but that there are options on where to go.

I love going to the parks and buying fresh picked peaches driven up from Virginia every weekend, seeing little children gobbling up pieces from the tasting plate like it was candy and asking their moms if they can have more. Finding a variety of fresh vegetables and dairy straight from the farm as well as handmade sausages and other such goods.

It’s inspiring to me as a chef and as a member of the community.

As you see in the photo above, taken at the Harlem Children’s Zone for Target’s Fun & Fit Family Day, the importance of this movement is catching and it’s spread to the most important members of our world, the kids.

But I feel it isn’t just about the quality of the foods available but, more importantly, it’s about community. Visiting the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning, I get to meet neighbors I might’ve only passed on the streets or at the drugstore. It’s an opportunity to engage, ask each other questions, share secrets for how to prepare that week’s selection of fruits and veggies.

Harlem, as large as it is, is all about community and this is only enhances that warm spirit.

With Red Rooster opening soon, I’m happy to know that as soon as the spring arrives, my chefs and I can pick foods for the day’s menu from an open air market right down the street. My only wish is that we can find a way to make this available year round. Hopefully, some day soon.

A great resource for finding a farmer’s market near you, regardless of where you live, is LocalHarvest.org.

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