This Little City Goes to Market

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When the lip-chapping, knuckle-numbing Wisconsin tundra begins to thaw, signs of life materialize over the landscape as shovels and ice scrapers return to the garage for hibernation. From maple buds to clover patches, Midwesterners can count on springtime flora to herald in the warmer, brighter season. However, most will agree that locally-grown produce resides at the top of the list of long-awaited plantlife. After months of canned and packaged cuisine, cold-climate dwellers are never ones to take fresh fruits and veggies for granted.

Because of this, the start of spring in Wisconsin initiates the beginning of farmers’ market season—the part of the year where communities can share and indulge in healthy, natural products sown from the earth. Unlike most grocery stores, farmers market visitors have the ability to speak directly with the people who grow, raise, and produce the products, which ultimately promotes food quality and transparency.

Thankfully, the Chippewa Valley has a strong reputation for its farmers’ market scene—one as diverse and abundant as its vendors’ goods. A visit to the market isn’t just for checking off items on the grocery list either—a trip to one of these fresh food havens has become a social outing as well.

Saturday mornings at Eau Claire’s Downtown Farmers Market perfectly demonstrate this trending activity. Swarms of college students, families, new friends and old acquaintances alike come in search of food, music, artisan wares, and an exciting hustle-bustle atmosphere. Even for those who don’t think they need anything, it’s nearly impossible to leave without a fistful of blossoms and an overflowing carton of raspberries.

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