One of my favorite things about Omaha is the Old Market. On any given night, the streets are filled with live music and teeming with people wandering from store to store or sitting down to a nice dinner at a local restaurant. But shopping and dining aren't the only things this area has to offer.
Every Saturday morning local farmers from across the Omaha and Council Bluffs area gather in the Old Market to sell fresh fruits and vegetables. I'm not much of a morning person, but this farmers market is worth waking up for. There are also local bakeries selling fresh bread and sweets, an almond stand that sells freshly candied almonds and others sell freshly cut flowers. There is music on every street corner, and it's very much like a festival — except it takes place every Saturday morning throughout the summer and early fall.
Where else can you buy local honey and seedling tomato plants? Or get free samples of about 20 different kinds of salsa? Or buy a chocolate chip cookie on a stick? I personally frequent the almond stand and the stand that sells homebrewed root beer; the combination of the two is a delicious summer snack. Another great reason to visit the farmers market is the cheese stand. You can buy amazing local cheeses, and it is definitely worth checking out.
I have always enjoyed buying from and supporting local farmers. With such a large farmers market, buying local is made much easier. I would rather pay a little more for food that I know is fresh than to support large corporations that aren't concerned with the quality of food.
For example, I like to eat raw tomatoes on occasion, and I typically buy them from the farmers market. Anyone who has had a garden fresh tomato knows how delicious they are. Well, one day I was out and needed a few tomatoes, so I stopped in Wal-Mart to pick some up. They were gross. It reminded me of every reason why I used to hate tomatoes. There was no flavor; they were too acidic, and unlike locally grown tomatoes, there was no sweetness in them at all. It was hugely disappointing, because then I had to choke them all down. Lesson learned. I will be journeying to the Old Market on Saturdays to buy my tomatoes from now on!
Photo: Sam Eiffert