Ah,summer. Finally. We’ve had one whole month of sunny, warm weather, with nary a semblance of rain. And summer in Cascadia summons up a hunger for luscious greens, berries and stone fruits. And where do we find these? At the Vancouver Farmers Markets.
I must say, these markets are a letdown. Thank goodness that they exist, and I frequent them regularly. There is nothing to compare with the freshness and taste of the food on offer. However, there are farms all around Vancouver, so why aren’t there more than a couple of dozen vendors at these markets? The 100 mile diet originated here! The Portland Farmers Markets are bigger and have a much bigger variety of products for sale. Even New York City, which is not particularly close to farmland, has a huge, bustling farmers market at Union Square.
To be fair, Vancouver is far enough north that the growing season is shorter and later. I’m still chomping into cherries that went out of season a month ago in Oregon. And this winter seemed to never end, so the markets might have had more than the normal challenge.
A new friend explained that the markets are relatively new, and still developing. In fact, farmers markets take years to build and strengthen. It took more than 20 years, but now the success of the Portland markets have transformed the city and culinary standards. They have built community and serve as public meeting places on the days they occur. Farmers get much-needed income, and are treated a bit more like the heroes they are. You see them start to experiment, with new flavors of jam, additional uses of goat milk and with the revival of heirloom crops with are so important to food security and biodiversity.
So that’s what we hope Vancouver has to look forward to in the next few years. We’re here to support the markets as they expand their size and influence. Meanwhile I have discovered that my two favorite markets are outside the city, Sundays in quaint Steveston and Saturdays in the mountain town of Squamish. In the former, I purchased the best strawberry rhubarb pie EVER. (Forks up, Sweet Thea.)