If you think of fresh fruits and vegetables, you probably don’t think of Wisconsin—especially if you’re not from the Midwest. Fresh fruits and vegetables come from states with year-round warm climates like California and Florida, right? While it’s certainly true that our warmer southern states do produce a lot of the produce Americans consume, there’s nothing quite like the small-town farm fresh approach that Wisconsin takes during the summer.
The history of Wisconsin’s summer fresh food movement can be traced back to its rich farming history. Starting with an influx of farmer immigrants in the 1800s, Wisconsin has always been home to family farms. Even with the fairly recent movement to “corporate” farming models, many of Wisconsin’s small family dairy farms have remained, carving out their own niche market.
As a result of the persistence of the small family farm, Wisconsin has become a haven for fresh food—especially during the summertime. For example, almost every city in farm-rich portions of the state boast at least one farmers’ market with myriad produce offerings. In larger areas, such as Milwaukee, just about each neighborhood has its own farmers’ market.
Milwaukee is also home to its own Seattle-inspired “Public Market.” Here you’ll find local (often organic) offerings ranging from fresh produce to locally-harvested honey to grass-fed beef and even fresh daily fish caught from Lake Michigan.
And finally, even when you want to eat out, you can still eat local and eat fresh. There are several “farm to table” concept restaurants where you can enjoy expertly prepared food that is all locally grown and sourced.
While Wisconsin may not be a major exporter of any one crop or a major producer of any one meat, we have a little bit of everything, and for the people that live and visit here, that makes for quite the fresh, diverse local food scene.