The Dallas Farmers Market: What Houston Should Aspire To Emulate

That’s probably the only time you’ll ever hear me say that Houston should aspire to mimic anything that Dallas has done, and that includes things about Dallas that I do find quite lovely: the Arboretum, the Kalachandji temple, the new Whole Foods at Park Lane, large swaths of Lower Greenville and the redevelopment of Oak Cliff. As far as those things are concerned, I feel like Houston has our own interesting versions of them and doesn’t need to look to Dallas as a role model for such things.

But when it comes to the gigantic Farmers Market in downtown Dallas, I feel only a heavy heart for Houston.

It’s long been a fact that our own farmers markets have been segmented due to in-fighting and petty disagreements among the various organizers and farmers themselves. Way to let your entire city down because of ego and unresolved drama, folks.

There have been strides made, of course, and as a result we have a plethora of great markets to choose from…but most of them are only open on specific days of the week and most of them have a limited selection. How wonderful would it be if Houston had a central farmers market that was open at least five days a week, if not seven? I know full well that I’m probably the eight millionth person to complain about this and that my two cents are just that…two cents out of many.

So instead of whining and moaning, let’s be inspired by some of the photos from the Dallas market. Maybe we can be the change we hope to see in Houston.

Not all of the stalls are "farmers." Some, like the stalls at the market on Airline here in Houston are simply "produce vendors." There's a difference, obviously.

Inside the covered, air-conditioned bays are vendors selling ready-to-eat, already-prepared foodstuffs or products like soap and candles. There's also a wicked map of Texas produce inside.

Outside are several covered areas for sitting and enjoying entertainment like this four-piece tuba band, which was playing Beach Boys hits. On tubas.

Produce vendors have a much larger selection than the farmers, but you have to be careful about the provenance of the food. Most of it isn't local.

There is plenty of local food if you look for it, though, like this okra from East Texas.

And these sweet red onions. Myself, I bought a giant bag of cream peas that can be hard to find in Houston.

There are also places like flower/herb vendors and restaurants - such as this one, which serves excellent breakfasts -- ringing the market on its periphery.

I found even more unusual produce as we shopped, like these cue ball squash.

I also found things I wasn't particularly interested in trying, like Kool-Aid pickles. I have limits sometimes...

Located right in the shadow of downtown, the Farmers Market is easily accessible for most Dallas residents.

One thing I did notice that the market was seriously lacking? Hispanic produce, herbs and spices. At least we’ve got them beat there.

What would you like to see in a large, centralized farmers market in Houston?

15 responses to “The Dallas Farmers Market: What Houston Should Aspire To Emulate

  1. So awesome. I just got back from Seattle, where I spent hours (and fortunes) in Pike Place Market. 100% amazing. And I seriously miss my regular Tuesdays and Saturdays at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market when I lived in San Francisco. I would love a centralized FM here — I love supporting local vendors, but hate that there are so many tiny ones here. Bayou City has *really* grown, but why not combine? Ugh.

  2. Beautiful photos of my town! It’s nice to hear Dallas get accolades for something as wonderfully local as our Farmer’s Market. It’s come a long way.

  3. Awesome images Katherine! And I’m with Ruthie in wishing our Farmers Market scene would combine into one giant festival of food. That would be nice.🙂

  4. Gorgeous photos!!! I am, for the first time, jealous of Dallas. But don’t tell them I said that.

  5. I always liked going to the Dallas Farmer’s Market when I lived there. It looks like they’ve increased their local offerings, which is good. The stuff from the actual farmers always tasted better. I do appreciate how they clearly label which stalls are farmers and which are vendors. Wish they’d do that at the Paris markets! 🙂

  6. Amanda Anderson

    Haha, That’s my mom in the black and white striped shirt. She called me at 2 PM waking me up from sleep telling me I had to go look it up. It was funny because while she was at the market she was telling me to go look up a blog about the market. It’s really cool to see my mom on this website!😀 Thanks for supporting the Farmers Market❤

  7. Hello Dearest:
    If ever we desire, require or otherwise deem necessary your verbose, self-serving, ludicrous reviews of our fine city, we’ll be certain to look you up in the vodka aisle of the nearest Spec’s location. Until then, do try sticking to reality; unless of course you can muster the strength to summon a receipt from the pits of that knapsack you consider a purse to substantiate an actual visit to our fair Market.
    Toodles,
    Bette Noir

    • Please disregard that previous post. It was meant for someone else, NOT SheEats. I confused two posts – too much tequila tonight. So sorry.

  8. Great post. The farmer’s market situation in Houston is an embarrassment.

    I noticed that the new sign at the Canino’s on Airline says “Farmers Marketing,” which is hilarious for a whole lot of unrelated reasons.

  9. I got up early one Saturday and went to Houston’s “market.” It was so small I breezed through it in about 3 minutes. A big disappointment.

  10. chris shepherd

    It would be nice to one day have a central farmers market. I can’t wait for the day actually. The question is why have one? Farmers at every market go home with produce because people Breeze by and don’t stop. Once we learn to eat more seasonally and locally maybe this goal could be accomplished. Until then, shop at Canino’s at airline market. They are doing exactly what this Dallas market is doing. They sell local and trucked produce. If that’s what you want, or support a small guy and buy a squash every once in a while. It may not be asparagus but we don’t grow that here. Maybe the big disappointments are what your not looking at instead of what your looking for. And please under no circumstance ever, ever say we should aspire to be like Dallas.

  11. Enjoyed the photos from our fantastic farmers’ market. From reading the comments, it seems like Houston thinks about Dallas quite a bit; on the other hand, Dallas NEVER thinks about Houston. Interesting.

  12. Chris Shepherd

    And Dallas still sucks!

  13. I was born and raised in Dallas, so I feel I can speak to this subject perhaps better than others. Dallas SUCKS. Sorry Dallas.

  14. I am so happy I have found your blog – I am moving to Houston in June🙂

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