Friday, August 28, 2009

Glendive Friday market, Western Trails

The Glendive Friday morning market opens at the sound of a dinner triangle. Originally, the market manager blew a whistle, but one day a small boy decided he could blow a whistle, too, and when customers heard the sound, they descended on the vendors 10 minutes early, causing some chaos.

A strict opening time is observed in order to be fair to everyone. Buyers come early to pick out what they want, so when they hear the triangle, they know exactly where to go. Today you had to make a tough decision if you wanted Lou's bread at one end of the market and tomatoes and corn at the other. Both of these items sold out within minutes. (I opted for the bread, lucky me!)

In fact, everything sells out quickly. Within 20 minutes most of the good stuff was gone, and by 11 o'clock all the vendors were gone. It's an intense hour of shopping, but this tradition has been going on for 18 years, and actual fights rarely break out, the market manager, Maxie, told me.

As at any market there were many stories to be heard. I learned that bacteria can live in honey only a few seconds and so it is good to put on injuries. The man selling honey said he had suggested a cowboy use it on the thumb he burned (and nearly lost) while roping. The skin grew back bright and new after applications of honey.

Lou's Luscious Loaves were featured in a series of articles on market vendors appearing in the Glendive Ranger Review. Lou grinds his own flour and makes 2 dozen loaves each week for the market, using as many local ingredients as possible. People keep telling him to do this full time, but Lou wants to enjoy his retirement years. He does love making bread, though, and is continually experimenting to improve it. His next project is to figure out how to trap the best local yeast to make a sourdough bread to rival San Francisco's. Go, Lou!

Lou showed me how he "hugs" each loaf . . . to get the air out of the bag. A real personal touch that helps the bread stay fresher a bit longer. It might also make it taste better since Lou's secret ingredient seems to be love.

There were all kinds of things for sale at this market . . . even kittens!

I also stopped in at the Farm-to-Table Co-op, where they make Western Trails Food mixes from locally grown grains. This organization has ambitious projects for supporting local farmers and food producers, with profits from Western Trails products helping to support these.

I was lucky to have Peggy show me around the "factory" where the mixes are put together. This consists of several rooms where volunteers help put raw ingredients into storage, create labels, and package the products. These products are continually improved based on customer suggestions. I bought a "Hucklebuddy" pancake mix, made from purple barley, with dried huckleberries stirred in, and complete with a packet of huckleberry syrup. Purple rules!

Glendive Friday Farmers Market
Jaycee West Park
July 10 - October 2
Friday, 10 am - 11 am (or until sold out)

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