Spend Meatless Monday at the Farmer's Market While You Still Can

In the coming months, I'll spend most of my time hidden away indoors in the air-conditioned igloo also known as my apartment. So what better way to spend a Meatless Monday than at the farmers market?

Rumor has it the Dallas Farmers Market may not be long for this world; I only live about a mile away so I figure I better patronize it while I still can.

There's something infinitely more exciting to me about shopping for fruit and veg at the Farmers Market over my regular grocery store.  Maybe it's the fresh air, or all the free samples--there's something incredibly satisfying about grabbing a slice of juicy tomato right off the blade of the purveyor's knife as they offer you a taste.  Maybe it's the smell of roasting corn, ready to be cut off the cob and showered with cotija, hot sauce and crema for some of the best damn elotes around.

There's definitely something to be said for the kaleidoscope of brightly colored merchandise: all those artfully arranged strawberries, stacked into glossy red pyramids with their peaks pointed skyward.  Sweet onions, with their bright green stalks and shiny white bulbs shaggy with dirt-stained roots.  Baskets of tomatoes as far as the eye can see: deliciously ugly and awkwardly shaped heirlooms, perfectly plump and round beefsteaks, underripe greens swirled with golden yellow.

The selection of locally grown produce at the market isn't huge just yet, with some of the growers claiming they'll have a more bountiful selection at the end of next month.  It may be early in the growing season, but I came armed with a twenty dollar bill and found plenty of local bounty to spend it on.

From the ever-reliable J.T. Lemley, smooth-skinned emerald green zucchini, four for two bucks, and a giant heirloom tomato from Marfa for two more.  A basket of deliciously fragrant baby peaches from Mexia, each no larger than a Ping-Pong ball (but infinitely more juicy and flavorful), three dollars.  Tiny red creamer potatoes, about the diameter of a quarter, two giant handfuls for three bucks.  (I also bought some local pork sausage, but that's a meal--and a story--for another day.)

I left feeling inspired to continue my meat-free meals, two heavy bags of produce in hand. No need for veggie burgers or another attempt at choking down tofu on this Meatless Monday; I'll need little more than a sharp knife, some olive oil, salt and fresh herbs to transform my purchases into a delicious meat-free meal.

You can follow J.T. Lemley on Facebook to keep tabs on availablity of his tomatoes and other produce.

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Whitney Filloon