Travel: Exploring Minnesota Food at St. Paul’s Famed Farmer’s Market


On the day before Halloween, an array of pumpkins and squash.

I’ve just returned from a ten-day stay with family and friends in Minnesota, and I plan to write several posts about what’s happening in the gopher state, where I spent 25 years of my life. Yesterday, my friend Roger Haase took me on a tour of St. Paul’s justifiably famed downtown Farmer’s Market which dates back 150 years. In its present location at 290 East 5th Street since 1982, the market has 167 stalls and operates on weekends year around, with a smaller winter market open December through April. Because everything must be grown or made in Minnesota and nearby Wisconsin, the market is a good gauge of what Minnesotans are growing and eating.  I almost always feel uplifted when I visit a Farmer’s Market, and yesterday was no exception.  It’s invigorating to be in the company of people who work so hard to produce beautiful food. You don’t get rich doing this sort of work, so you know that they value something else. Minnesota’s once meat-and-potatoes cuisine has in the past few decades been enlivened by immigrants from many countries, but most notably Viet Nam, Mexico, Somalia, and by Hmong people from Southeast Asia, who, as truck farmers, play a large role in the market. It must be said also, that because of global warming, or for whatever reason, Minnesota’s climate is now not as harsh and unforgiving as I remember it to be.  Frankly, I was surprised to find as wide a variety of locally-grown produce (even tomatoes) so late in the season. See more photos of what I found at the market after the jump.

Lovely root vegetables, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, onions, you would expect to find this time of year....

Asian produce grown by Hmong immigrants is a relatively new addition to Minnesota cuisine.

Creative marketing was much in evidence, a basket of gourds and Indian corn.

Wisconsin cranberries. Tell me honestly, did you even imagine that they grew cranberries in Wisconsin? More photos of the market, after the jump...

Continue reading