When I was growing up we ate grayish green peas from a can and white tasteless iceberg lettuce. Those were our standard dinner vegetables. I was a child of the 70’s raised in Minnesota and we did not have the luxury of fresh produce more than 30 days a year. Those 30 days offered up corn and tomatoes. Each summer we indulged in fresh corn on the cob slathered in salt and butter, which turned more into a greasy mess than a serving of food. At night my mother would eat July tomatoes wrapped like an apple in a red soggy napkin for a snack. I was repulsed.
Moving south and tastebuds maturing, I broadened my palate and became enamored with tropical fruits, dark red lettuce, green tomatoes and anything else I thought might piss off my family (my mother often exclaimed loudly how STRANGE I started eating since going away to college). Minnesotans are not known for experimenting with foods, especially from God’s green earth. Pick it, can it, put it on a shelf. Like good, Norwegian-influenced, puritan sex; don’t talk about and don’t try anything different.
We kept our veggies and our cravings safely buried- deep within a protective layer of tin or glass or morals. Frozen was about as far as it went for freshness, but even that was a bit too exotic for my childhood home. Except for Green Giant’s bright orange frozen broccoli stems dripping in gooey, fake cheese we did not partake in any frozen nonsense.
Today I live blocks away from one of the best farmer’s markets in Nashville. My playground in the spring, freakshow in the summer, and warehouse in the fall.
In the middle of a fast-growing urban neighborhood in transition the 12South Farmers Market is a gathering spot for foodies, college kids, moms with strollers, families, dogs, and even tourists. The beautiful tree filled park with rolling hills and bright yellow historic Sunnyside Mansion is the perfect backdrop for vendors to set up tables full of local, fresh, seasonal Tennessee grown produce.
Table after table displaying homegrown produce with the textures, scents, and tastes without the constraints of plastic or cans. This food is bursting with life, with energy, and with love…….It’s real.
Ripe juicy strawberries begging to be tasted.
Firm, full root vegetables proudly displayed spilling out of containers.
For the more adventurous there are hard to find items like freshly picked suede-like porcini mushrooms, scoby for making your own kombucha, purple and green kohlrabi, homemade kimchi, duck eggs, local goats milk, wheatgrass and organic free range chicken sausage. There is something to tempt the most conservative taste…….
Vendors include locally handmade soaps, oils, plants, organic farms, gardens, bakeries, juice, dairy/meats, and the obligatory food trucks and live music. The owners/farmers are there to answer any questions and are happy to tell you about their products and give samples.
As bland as this area is in danger of becoming due to overdevelopment this little market is an anomaly of sorts. An old-fashioned neighborhood get together in what is quickly growing into a cluster fuck of new construction and traffic jams. Because of this there are now overly polite, orange vested parking attendants cheerfully sweeping drivers away from the park because it’s so congested. Get there early in order to park across the street in vacant lot.
Market is located at the corner of Kirkwood and Granny White Pike the market runs May-October every Tuesday 3:30-6:30