January is long, it’s dreary, and it seems to serve mainly as a way to help us appreciate the other months more. The month’s one ringing endorsement, however, comes when the ball drops at midnight. It’s a new year, a new you, so for that reason, January aligns well with new beginnings. What better pairing for that fresh resolve than the fresh, locally grown foods from your local farmers market?
Farmers markets in January? Absolutely! Two 417-land markets in particular run all year long, providing offerings to ensure that your family is getting quality, locally grown food even in the dead of winter. With vegetables, baked goods, meats and more, vendors offer something for everyone.
The Greater Springfield Farmers Market is located on the southeast corner of the Battlefield Mall parking lot, at the intersection of South Glenstone and East Battlefield. This market is open the first and third Saturdays in January, from 8 a.m. to noon.
“We’re a true farmers market, in that we only allow what our vendors grow themselves,” says Manager Brad Gray. “That’s what makes us unique, but that’s also what limits us.” One sure bet for the winter months, though, are meat vendors. “Last year, we did have some great items,” he adds. “Cauliflower, broccoli, butternut squash and acorn squash were all available. We just can’t tell from one year to the next, though.”
In the same vein, Farmers Market of the Ozarks at Farmers Park, remains open year-round on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
With the uncertainty over 417-land winter offerings, though, is it really worth checking out the markets? It absolutely is, and fear not, because we’ve done some of the legwork for you.
After sorting through the offerings, we’ve narrowed down three exceptional vendors (and their yummiest items) that we recommend to January farmers market attendees who are want to keep their groceries extra-local and extra-fresh. All three of these vendors can be found at Farmers Market of the Ozarks this month.
Our featured items begin with meat, produced from two family-owned farms, Brittain Farm and Ozark Red Devons. Both offer several types of meats from animals that are grass-finished, an important distinction from grass-fed. “The secret is grass-finished, and the heartiness of the Devon breed means that they do exceptionally well eating grass only,” says Reggie Bergeron of Ozark Red Devons. “Red Devons also have a lower percentage of overall fat, but superior intramuscular marbling, ensuring tenderness. I’d love for everyone to benefit from this delicious, all-natural type of meat.” Bergeron offers steaks; ground burger; and quarter, half, and whole beefs, as well as brats.
Ozark Red Devon’s cheddar-jalapeno brats ($9 for five) are truly a hidden gem worth uncovering. Pick some up for a quick and easy dinner with a little kick. Can’t handle the spice? The Ozark Red Devon regular brats are equally tasty.
Brittain Farm expands the meat options with its steaks and pasture-raised pork. Brittain steaks are known for a 21-day, dry-aging technique, and regularly sell out quickly at market. While the filet and ribeye are certainly popular, the pork offerings, including bone-in smoked chops and ham hocks, are also impressive. “All of these products are nitrate-, hormone-, and antibiotic-free, and have no MSG,” adds owner Chassidy Brittain.
Brittain Farm’s smoked, uncured bacon ($10 per pound) is scrumptious. While the smoked, uncured variety is its best-seller, Brittain has a wide variety of bacon choices, all of which are nitrate-free.
We’ve got the meat, but what about the vegetables? Millsap Farms, produces those in spades. Their carrots and spinach, in particular, pack a big flavor punch. Millsap vegetables also have a secret weapon. “Our soil is high in organic matter, which provides plants what they need to produce all kinds of delicious flavors,” explains Millsap Farms owner Curtis Millsap.
Pick up Millsap Farm’s fresh spinach ($5 per bag) to taste why winter spinach is the best. To safeguard from freezing, the plants put sugar into their leaves. The result makes this spinach taste like no spinach you’ve experienced.