Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chicago Done Naturally (Post 5 of 10) - Green City and Other Farmers' Markets

Chicago has literally dozens of neighborhood farmers' markets.  Check the link above if you want to see if there's one near you.  I want to check out the downtown ones more thoroughly this summer, but in my experience, the neighborhood ones can be very, very small - like a dozen stalls, and only half of those actually having fruits and vegetables.  So I'm concentrating on the Mother of All Chicago's Farmers' Markets - the Green City Market.

The GCM is across the street from the “Farm in the Zoo” exhibit at Lincoln Park Zoo. It’s outside from May through October (there’s an inside market in the winter, but it’s not quite as good shooting) on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. The GCM and LPZ can make for a really long, but really great day of shooting. Bring a fully-charged battery and lots of memory.  Throw in the Lincoln Park Conservatory and you'll have more pictures than you'll possibly know what to do with in one day.

This is Chicago’s biggest and most well-known Farmers’ Market. Did you watch the Chicago season of Top Chef? Remember the one where the chefs had to make their quick-fire only from things found at the Farmers’ Market? That was this market. There’s a wide variety of foods – fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and breads – as well as flowers, that change throughout the season. I always ask the stand-operators if I can shoot their stuff, and they’ve always enthusiastically approved, often staging things for me (and showing me things like their Eggplant version of Mr. Potato Head).

 Keep an eye out for the quirky. Last year I got this really fun shot of a crate of green beans with a little chalkboard sign that said “Magic Beans - $1.00 a handful”.

I seem to have lost my shot of Mrs. Eggplant Head.  I'll have to see if they make a new one for this year.

To hit:
Okay, this has nothing to do with photography, but the crepe stand is awesome. The fillings change with the season and everything I’ve tried has been amazing. Also, there’s a stand making hot donut holes on the south edge of the market – to die for. (At least they were on the south edge in 2009. I’m not sure if they’ll be in the same spot this year.) [ETA: They are. ;)]

To miss:
The flowers can make for great shooting, but they do attract Very Large bees. Which can also make for great shooting, but I know a kid who got a bad sting, so watch out. Also, if it’s been raining, wear rainboots or other shoes that handle mud well. They throw down hay after a rain, but the grounds stay pretty soggy.

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