I love farmers’ markets. In every city and country I’ve traveled to, outdoor markets are not only great for local produce and good deals, but they show off a bit of the local flavor and people, too. From La Boqueria in Barcelona to las ferias in Santiago; to the back alley market in Wuxi, China (near Shanghai) which included live animals and live fish (but not for long); to fresh fruit from Pier 39 in San Francisco; the outdoor market in Fairbanks, Alaska with giant vegetables, and the farm stands in your local town, the colorful fresh fruit and vegetables flirt for your pocketbook.
As a kid, I remember selling sweet corn for a couple summers at the farmer’s market in Akron, Iowa. My sister, brother and I would wade into the cornfield and load our arms full with stacks of sweet corn, undeterred by the beating sun or itchy pollen. We’d unload them in bushel baskets in our wheelbarrow cart, not stopping until we had several hundred ears. At $2 a dozen, we offered a pretty good deal.
The Curry’s have almost always planted bicolor sweet corn, but in the early 90’s it was more of a rarity than a regular feature at markets or even grocery stores, for that matter. People would ask for our “candy corn.” Sweet corn is not a core part of our family business, but is planted for our family, employees, friends and neighbors. There was always an overabundance of corn, and the farmers’ market allowed my siblings and I to pool together some extra vacation cash. We can’t possibly have earned that much money, but to this day, it remains a rich memory.