Fresh and Local: Tempe Farmers Market

Tempe, Arizona

When Daryle Dutton's local food co-op was shut down to make way for high-rise condos, he and his neighbors found themselves having to get in the car and drive 30 minutes just to pick up a tomato for dinner. With the goal of bringing fresh, local food back to the community, Dutton opened Tempe Farmers Market, a new indoor market in downtown Tempe, Arizona. We stopped by last week to check out the store and pick up some regional specialties.

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Tempe Farmers Market, which opened four weeks ago, aims to be "your daily source of food and art." The market has a palpable community-oriented and family-run feel, and there's a solid (and growing, Dutton tells us) selection of seasonal and organic produce, pantry staples, bread, dairy, eggs, hormone-free meats, artisan products, pet food, and green household cleaning supplies. Dutton's plans for the space also include lectures, art shows, music, and a weekly outdoor farmers' market.

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The market carries locally-grown fruits and vegetables when possible, with some some non-local but organic produce to round out the selection.

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Other products include Arizona honey, Queen Creek Olive Mill oil …

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… gorgeous handmade pasta from Tempe's Decio Pasta, fresh tortillas …

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… Cartel Coffee roasted around the corner, and ceramics made by local artists.

While he's passionate about minimizing carbon footprints and supporting Arizona food producers, Dutton is equally concerned with meeting the needs of everyone in neighborhood, not just die-hard locavores or gourmands. With this in mind, he stocks a range of local and non-local items at various price levels, ingredients for the area's Asian and Middle Eastern communities (his Chinese father-in-law curates a shelf called the "Asian Zone"), and enough variety that people can make this their regular grocery store. Alongside the artisanal pasta is Kraft macaroni and cheese, making the store feel accessible and inclusive.

We really appreciate this approach and recommend a stop by Tempe Farmers Market if you're in the Tempe or Phoenix area. It's also a great place for food-loving tourists to find souvenirs like salsas, spices, and relish. And horse rides are free!

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Related: Sense of Place: Food and Cuisine of the Southwest

(Image: Emily Ho)

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