Sunday, August 8th: Rochester Fights Back... Rather Weakly. Also, Smoky Sun Photos & Gluten-Free Bread!

As you all know, I've been beseeching you all to vote for Ballard Farmers Market in the 2010 America's Favorite Farmers Market Contest for the last several weeks. Voting is open through August 31st, so you need to get on this. Currently, Ballard continues to rank near the top, behind markets Rochester, NY and Davis, CA. And all three of our markets are putting on a full-court press to pile on votes as quickly as possible. That means we still need each and every one of you to vote for your Ballard Farmers Market. Since no other market in Washington is anywhere close to being in the running here, you can shed any silly Seattle guilt you might have about choosing one market over another here as your favorite. Look, we all know Seattle has the best market system in the country. We also know Ballard is the best of the best. So vote not just for Ballard, but for Seattle... for Washington! This is about showing our pride in the best gosh-darned local food system in the America. And if you are not yet convinced to take the 30 seconds to vote, check out what we received from Rochester, NY on Friday...

Apparently the folks in Rochester are concerned about us out here in Seattle, and they are reading the Ballard Farmers Market blog. Really. In fact, one Evan Lowenstein of Rochester, New York, was kind enough to share this bit of enlightened commentary on my recent partisan rants in the America's Favorite Farmers Market campaign. Evan wrote:

Hey dude, here's a little friendly response to your posts mentioning Rochester. I'm from Rochester, and it's not fair or informed to suggest that all we've offered the world is "Kodak and Pyrex." Rochester's nicknames have been both "The Flour City" and "The Flower City" because of its significant agricultural and horticultural heritage. We don't like being hinged completely to Kodak in the minds of the uninformed, because there's so very much more to Rochester; and Pyrex was invented in Corning, about 100 miles from here, not in Rochester. What's more, you associate us with one of the two "biggest states", one of the Goliaths that David Washington needs to beat for all to be right in the world. The truth is that the Seattle region is about three times more populous than Greater Rochester. So who's really the big bully here?

Wow. Thanks for clarifying that for us, Evan. Pyrex is from Corning. Rochester, Corning, Utica. Whatever. Ah, but the culinary masterpiece, the Garbage Plate is from Rochester! (This may be one reason why Rochester's population is less than Seattle's.) I am sure the city's founders with all their flour and flowers are very proud. And what strikes me first about our dear Evan is that he must be the only person in Upstate New York who lacks a sense of humor.  I mean, sheesh! Has this guy ever heard of a spirited razzing by the opposition? Heck, has he ever seen the Mariners (or any other baseball team, for that matter) play in Yankees Stadium? Here in polite Seattle, we banned "Yankees Suck!" t-shirts in Safeco Field, but in New York, it seems the ushers must be handing out projectiles for Yankees fans to hurl onto the field at visiting teams' outfielders. Look, I grew up in Upstate New York myself. And it sounds to me like Evan would be more at home out here, writing the Uptight Seattleite column in the Weekly. So come on, people, are we really gonna sit on our butts and let Rochester beat us in this contest? Hell, no! Vote now!

And let us examine some of Evan's "facts". He says that Big Bully Seattle should not pick on itsy, bitsy little Rochester. Oh, boo-hoo. But let's look at the numbers. Seattle has three times the population that Rochester does. However, Seattle has four times the number of farmers markets that Rochester has. Ballard Farmers Market is only 1 of 17 markets in Seattle proper, while there are only four in Rochester. And the Rochester Public Market (which allows reselling of food products and the sale of general merchandise, according to their website, and offers a garage sale and flea market on Sundays), is open four days a week, to Ballard's one day. Hmm. Gee, Evan. Them numbers would seem to favor you guys, not us. And that is to say nothing about the fact that the Rochester Public Market is owned and operated by the City of Rochester. Gosh, it sure would be nice to have those deep pockets backing us here in Ballard. And Rochester has a permanent structure for its market. We have to set up in the street. On further reflection, perhaps it is Evan that is uninformed. (Oh, snap!) But now that you are better informed, please, vote for Ballard!

Evan also wrote

I also noticed that you are encouraging folks to vote using every email address that they have. That's not exactly fair now, is it? I know that those promoting the contest here in Rochester are asking voters to play it fair, one vote per person... that we want to win this thing fair and square. It's disheartening to know that our competition isn't doing the same thing.

Oh, lighten up, Evan. Have you ever heard of exaggeration? I believe I also encouraged people to get their cats, dogs and parole officers to vote. It's called humor. That said, does anyone believe that the kind, honest, hypersensitive people of Rochester, New York are carefully spreading the word to everyone to cast one vote per person, and that they want to win this thing fair and square? Sure, maybe they think that, but they're not saying it. Heck, the very act of saying it imparts to people that they can vote more than once anyway. I mean, really, Evan, who are you kidding? But I must at least thank Evan for helping me illustrate why it is so important for you to vote for your Ballard Farmers Market now. (And Evan, before you have an aneurysm, please take a chill pill and accept the reality that by writing to us, you only served to present yourself on a silver platter. I do hope you didn't ask your friends and family to check out our blog. Consider it a life lesson.)

Hey, enough beating up on poor Evan. Have you been enjoying all the photos above that are tinged with the golden hue of last Sunday's wildfire smoke filtered sunlight? Yeah, that weird looking sky we had last Sunday was courtesy of the wildfires in British Columbia. It made for the most spectacular light for photography. I didn't screw with the coloring on these photos at all. That's natural light. I think the one up top of George Page from Sea Breeze Farm is the most striking. Pretty cool, huh?

Hey, please welcome Platypus Breads to your Ballard Farmers Market. Lindsay bakes some of the most incredible gluten-free breads I have ever encountered. They are moist and flavorful -- two words one generally does not associate with gluten-free bread. If you have been looking for really good gluten-free bread, stop by and check out Platypus. You will find Lindsay sharing a tent with House of the Sun, which joined us once before, back on Seafood Fest weekend. House of the Sun specializes in raw and vegan foods, and the stuff they make is outstanding. So today, you can meet two upstart local food artisans who are creating incredible products that address the dietary needs of many of us in Ballard. But we are not sure how often we will be able to squeeze these folks in, so do check them out today, and grab a business card from them, so you can followup with them in the future.

I love how gorgeous these fresh, whole sockeye salmon from Loki Fish look. They just sparkle, don't they? Dylan Knutsen tells me that when they catch fish in Alaska, they quickly clean and bleed them, then they pack them in ice right away and send them on a temperature controlled barge down to Seattle. He says it's much better than flying the fish down, as it is kept better. That's not how all fish is handled, but it is how Loki does it.

It has always been hard for me to get a decent photo of actual Empire ice cream. It is always on dry ice at the Market, and at home it just doesn't last long enough. So I decided I would just take a photo of my Empire Ice Cream shirt instead. My purpose here is to call your attention to some absolutely superb ice cream. Tom makes his ice cream using local ingredients, from the cream and milk he gets from South King County to the sugar he sources from Idaho to the chocolate from Fremont to the many flavorings he mixes in from his fellow Ballard Farmers Market vendors. You'll find no stabilizers, no additives, no extra crap in Tom's ice cream. What you will find is the only mint-chocolate chip ice cream I have ever tasted that I like, because he uses fresh mint leaves instead of mint oil. Stop by for a taste, a cup, heck, a pint or three today!

Jonboy Caramels is back at your Ballard Farmers Market for another brief appearance today, and they bring with them their newest caramel flavor: Absinthe & Black Salt. Oh, this stuff is goooood. You must come try some.

Finally, I must give a shout out to Lilly Crosby, a young artist extraordinaire who spent the day with Alm Hill Gardens two weeks ago knocking out brilliant drawings like this one (above) for me of river otters at play... in about two minutes, I might add. It was amazing to watch. Lilly even asked me when I asked for otters if I wanted river otters or sea otters. It blew me away, and then she created this playful work of art at the snap of a finger. Lilly did all this for a greater good, too. She was taking donations for her drawings to support Hope For Horses and PAWS. Of course, you can still contribute to these worthy causes of Lilly's just by clicking through to their websites. Or, the next time you see Lilly with her pens at the Alm Hill tables, toss her a few bucks and take home a work of art!

And remember, there is plenty more for you to find today at your Ballard Farmers Market. But before you click on the What’s Fresh Now! pages to see what all else is in season right now, please do take a moment to vote for Ballard Farmers Market in American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest. And thank you!