I love shopping at farmer’s markets so when I saw one while heading to the beach on St. Croix, I had to stop.
The setup was simple with plain tables under a large tent. The offerings were anything but. Many of the farmers were selling produce they grew in their yards, which is how many residents farm. They also had produce imported from Puerto Rico, which is were much of the food the island’s residents eat comes from.
Pumpkin was prominent, which was surprising. When I see pumpkins at the markets here, they are for decoration. On St. Croix, they are a major food. I asked the farmers how they prepared them, and the recipes were endless. The popular way was to slice, with the peel on, and bake.
Sweet potatoes were sold beside yams. Yams are native to the Caribbean and can’t be grown in the States. Most of the sweet potatoes grown in North Carolina have orange flesh, while the ones at this market were purple. A popular way to eat them is in a stuffing with raisins.
Another popular item was sweet peppers. These tiny peppers looked and smelled like they’d be hot but they were sweet. Most farmers had them in sandwich bags.
I also saw passion fruit, which was used in many foods that I saw at the St. Croix Agriculture and Food Fair. Papaya, lettuce, bananas, peanuts, and many other local foods were also for sale. Each farmer talked to me about how they would prepare their produce in the kitchen, how they grew it and island life in general. Many offered samples. If it hadn’t been so close to when I was leaving, I would have stocked up and cooked a meal or two at our rental.
There are markets across the island at different times of the week, giving farmers a chance to sell direct to consumers. It also gives consumers and tourists like me a chance to learn more about what locals grow and eat. Next time I’ll visit a market earlier in the week, so I get a chance to try pumpkin.