The oldest farmers’ market west of the Mississippi River is located in St. Louis: Soulard Market. A walk among its bustling food stalls is a sensory trip, a culinary odyssey.
The sounds, smells, and colorful produce take me back to my childhood, when my parents and I visited Eastern Market in Washington, D.C. My father would often buy a live chicken, or turkey, and ready it for the oven the old-fashioned way. It was a messy process, but in the day before freezers, it was the best way to get a fresh bird.
Soulard Market had its beginnings in 1779 in a meadow, where farmers brought their produce, dairy and livestock to sell. The market bears the name of Antoine Soulard, who became the owner of the 122-acre plot before the Louisiana Purchase was signed. In 1841, two city blocks were set aside by his widow for the market and the addition of two buildings.
Today locavores (i.e., those who eat food grown locally whenever possible), can choose from among more than 100 vendors. Those with an eye and a camera will also appreciate the artistry that goes into arranging the colorful display stalls. Bring an empty tote bag, an open mind and pocketbook, and enjoy the adventure.