Madison, Wisconsin: A Haven for Food Lovers and Locavores

Radishes at a Wisconsin farm market
I missed my local farm market Saturday, but I had the chance to visit the market that started it all for me: the legendary Dane County Farm Market on Madison, Wisconsin's busy capital square.

Madison shares a huge hunk of my heart with Paris, France. I like cities, especially cities that have an enlightened and progressive populace. Madison and Paris meet that criterium.

During my 10 years as a Madisonian, I had easy access to the Saturday market: I lived five blocks away. I'd get up early, grab my string bag - which I still have - and head down Carroll Street for the best fresh vegetables as well as baked goods. I'd go back to my studio apartment, eat my breakfast tartine or muffin, and head back to the market for more produce. I probably spent less than $25 a week and always had organic produce on hand.

My Saturday lunch was always a fresh vegetable salad with sourdough bread. On Saturday night, I usually often cooked dinner for a friend, ate leftovers on Sunday, and made soup on Tuesday or Wednesday.

It was a thrill to be back on Saturday.

It's early in the season yet, but I found tomatoes, shallots, carrots, lettuce, meat, eggs, cheese, baked goods, flowers and vegetable plants and much more at the market. The vendors were as friendly as usual, though this is likely a new generation of growers.

Madison, always in the vanguard, has become a leader in Wisconsin's Eat Local movement. It's only been three years - too long! - since my last visit, but I found many more restaurants promoting locally sourced food, more than I noticed on my last visit.

I discovered an exquisite publication from Edible Madison. Check the link to learn more about the locavore movement in the Madison area.

Certainly one of the pioneers of the eat-local movement in Madison is Odessa Piper. She's no longer in Madison, as far as I know, but it's no stretch of the imagination to credit her with the thriving eat local movement in Wisconsin's capital city: Piper's restaurant, L'Etoile, now under new ownership, promoted use of local produce, dairy foods and meat in a time when imported food carried a good deal of prestige.

Thank goodness for Piper. May her lessons be long remembered here in Wisconsin.


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