This weekend Liz and I made a trip over to Eastern Market. If you live anywhere near Detroit and have not visited Eastern Market, you are missing out on an amazing and positive side to the city. Typically I don’t get over to the market this early in the year since it is a bit early in the season. My visits have all been on Flower Day or later, so I was expecting a very mini version of the Eastern Market I know and love.
I was pleased to find that Eastern Market was still very much happening and full of some great hustle and bustle. In addition to the usual brick & mortar stores around the perimeter, the sheds were full of local vendors offering quality foods and products for great prices. A lot of local growers don’t have veggies even planted yet, let alone ready to sell. Fortunately they pick up the slack by importing some less than local foods from other states.
The center of Eastern Market is taken up by the sheds, marked as Shed 2 through Shed 6. Apparently Shed 1 was demolished many years back and no one wanted to renumber the current sheds, so don’t spend too much time searching for that one! I’m glad I resisted the urge to locate it on foot.
The sheds themselves are full of vendors’ booths and can get quite crowded throughout the day. Actually, who am I kidding, all of Eastern Market can get crowded. Get there early if you want to be efficient with your shopping and always bring a large bag. Some people that do a majority of their shopping here come prepared with their own grocery carts.
These sheds make up six blocks of both indoor and open air stands filled with fresh produce, quality local meats and Michigan made packaged foods. If you are going to check a map and count blocks, let me follow up and say that that is what the Eastern Market website says. I took a look at a map and can’t figure out what counts and doesn’t count as a block and only ended up with numbers higher and lower than six. If anyone has input on how that works, let me know.
The sheds also have a growing number of vendors providing organic, raw and vegan products. A lot of the booths with packaged foods provide free samples so you can taste what you are getting before you buy. If you’re scared of a little veggie burger or raw cheese, sampling is a good way to make sure you will like what you buy.
And if you are looking for more than just food, you are also in luck. They have a number of plants and flowers in pots for your home or garden as well as dried branches for wreaths and crafts. You can spend hours just in the sheds alone if you stop at all the vendors. Although we hit many on Saturday, we came nowhere close to seeing them all. In addition to the absolutely required stop at the McClure’s pickle stand, let’s go over a few other highlights of the sheds.
Rightfully Raw in Shed 2 had some amazing salsas and dips. I regretfully limited myself to two and got the Red Hot Tom salsa as well as the Spicy Garlic Hummus. The salsa tasted amazingly fresh and is a good pre-made substitute for when I do not want to make my own salsa at home. The hummus was smooth and creamy with just the right amount of bite from the red pepper flakes and cayenne. Rightfully Raw was just started a few years back by Liz and Mark Russell and it’s great to see this brand still going strong. Sometimes people fear the word “raw” when it comes to foods, but Rightfully Raw give us some great products to try that get your foot in the door to the Raw Food world.
Grassfields Cheese was also on our list of stops. Though I’m not a cheese fan myself, Liz’s approval of the Gouda and the Garlic ‘n Onion convinced me to pick up some Chili Cheese for my husband Mike. Based in Coopersville, MI, Grassfields has a history of five generations working the farmland that they are still on. Check out their website to find more of their story.
Both Liz and I had to throw down some cash for the awesome Red Pepper-Garlic Turkey burgers from Greenleaf Turkey. Even though they came frozen, the cooked up samples had a lot of pepper and garlic flavor and tasted fresh and home-made. I also sampled their veggie burgers which were filled with various beans, vegetables, garlic and spices. I love a veggie burger that is truly a veggie burger and doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. Unfortunately there were already plenty of veggie burgers in my freezer, so those will have to wait until the next time I stock up.
We of course made some additional stops on our trip to stock up on produce and other goodies. Apparently some form of Armageddon will occur at the Carson household if Liz comes home without some maple syrup, so we made a stop at the Carncross Sugar Bush booth and she picked up some syrup and maple cream. Another treat for her family was the apple jam from Slow Jams that tasted just like apple pie and giant bunny cookies that she had to cradle and protect like a new born baby until we were able to drop the first load of goodies at the car. We’ll have to wait and see how the Carson family review goes on those. And you shouldn’t leave Eastern Market without some Avalon bread. We didn’t. Because we don’t mess around.
Read Page 2 for our travels outside of the sheds…