In the waning days of summer, greenmarket splendor turns taciturn. Mottled lima beans beg for a snap, plump pumpkins stand their ground. But beyond the charge a Saturday stroll brings to our inner hunter-gatherer, farmers? markets offer something else we tend to forget in our frenzied existence: experiences grounded in distinct time and place. The foodie mantra of "local, organic, sustainable" might as well mean "connection, community, authenticity" -- buzzwords equally at home on jetsetters' lips. "People like knowing the story behind the things they buy," says Eric Demby, cofounder of Smorgasburg, the popular all-food, all-the-time offshoot of the Brooklyn Flea. "Call it retro, call it old-fashioned, or call it online backlash -- people like connecting to other people in the flesh." Here, our favorite greenmarkets, which we simply call delicious.
DANE COUNTY FARMERS' MARKET, MADISON, WIS.The country?s largest producer-only market mixes political brouhaha with busy booths on the state capitol steps.
>Must-try: Squeaky cheese curds, Bleu Mont Dairy?s raw-milk bandaged cheddar.
>When: Wednesdays 8:30 a.m.?2 p.m., Saturdays 6 a.m.?2 p.m. (April?November); DCFM.org
SMORGASBURG, BROOKLYN, N.Y. From báhn mì to pupusas and oysters on the half shell, 100-plus vendors and their prepackaged, cooked-to-order goods create an haute-to-home-style culinary crossroads.
When: Saturdays 9 a.m.?5 p.m. (May?October); Smorgasburg.com
FERRY PLAZA FARMERS? MARKET, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFThrice weekly, the turn-of-the- century Ferry Building approaches something akin to culinary nirvana when buzzy independent shops and restaurants—Slanted Door, Cowgirl Creamery, Blue Bottle Coffee—join forces with California?s organic farmers.
>Must-try: Sweetwaters from Hog Island Oysters, local nectar from Marshall?s Farm Natural Honey.
>When: Tuesdays/Thursdays 10 a.m.?2 p.m., Saturdays 8 a.m.?2 p.m.; CUESA.org
CITY MARKET, KANSAS CITY, MO.Since 1857, local farmers fill in the heart (literally—head to the most central booths) of K.C.?s mixed entertainment and restaurant/grocer complex.
>When: Saturdays 7:30 a.m.?11 a.m.; HFBF.org/markets
ATWATER MARKET, MONTREALOpen since 1933, the Atwater Market features a diverse range of merchants, caterers and specialty boutiques selling meats, fish, baked goods and fine fruit ?n? veg all year round. The Lachine Canal cycling path leads up to the market.
>Must-try: Boulangerie Premiére Moisson breads and pastries, La Fromagerie Atwater cheese and Chocolats Geneviève.
>When: Monday?Wednesdays 7 a.m.?6 p.m., Thursday-Fridays 7 a.m.?8 p.m., Saturday-Sundays 7 a.m.?5 p.m.; MarchesPublics-mtl.com
GREEN CITY MARKET, CHICAGO, ILL.Check out the website for weekly farmer spotlights and event schedule, like "The Edible Gardens Workshop: Keeping a Tidy Garden" and Savor the Seasons Tomato Festival.
>Must-try: Caprioles goat cheese and Flora Confections pate de fruit.
>When: Saturdays 8 a.m.?1 p.m. (Indoor), Wednesdays and Saturdays 7 a.m.?1.p.m. (Outdoor); GreenCityMarket.org
PORTLAND FARMERS MARKET, PORTLAND, ORE.The must-stop shop for PDX?s hipster gay scene, from carnivore to vegan.
>Must-try: Royal Ann?s cherries and Gilson Marine Farms? clams and oysters.
>When: Saturdays 8:30 a.m.?2 p.m.; PortlandFarmersMarket.org
PIKE PLACE MARKET, SEATTLE, WASH.Watch for flying fish! The quintessential market experience might be a tourist trap (thanks Real World), but it?s a damn delicious one any time of the year bursting with fresh seafood, flowers and produce. Frequent events like the anniversary "Sunset Supper at the Market" and "10th Annual Buskers Festival."
>Must-try: Chukar cherries, market grill and a brew from the first-ever Starbucks.
>When: Monday to Saturdays 9 a.m.?6 p.m., Sundays 9 a.m.?5 p.m.; PikePlaceMarket.org
SANTA FE FARMERS MARKET, SANTA FE, NEW MEXICOSo that?s what you do with a cactus? Cook with the Chef events help you get up to speed on Southwest cuisine. Adjoining artisan market for the trinket inclined.
>Must-try: LaMont?s Wild West Buffalo, Heidi?s Raspberry Farm and Purple Adobe Lavender Farm.
>When: Tuesdays and Saturdays 8 a.m.?1 p.m., New Mexico Artisans Market ? Sundays 10 a.m.? 4 p.m.; SantaFeFarmersMarket.com
CHATTANOOGA RIVER MARKET, CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEEWith over 350 active vendors who must either raise or handcraft their offerings (no re-selling), entertainment, and plenty of events (Five-Star Food Fight, anyone?) it?s the south?s biggest farm-to-table brouhaha.