When I was 7, my dad took me to my first farmers market. I (he) bought a single pineapple for my fruit of choice. As I (he) cut it up when we got home, I eagerly awaited the first taste. I took the first bite, and basked in the glory. I had never tasted a fruit so fresh, sweet, and irresistibly tangy.
Rice University Farmers Market
Tuesdays, 3:30–6:30 p.m.
5600 Greenbriar, West Stadium Lot
From that day on, I looked forward to every other Saturday morning—or, as my dad called it, “Market Saturday.” It was a treat to travel with him down Highway 59 to scope out some of the best farmers markets, trying new fruits and vegetables and anything else we could get our hands on. As I got older and Market Saturdays were no longer as usual of a thing, I started searching for a place that would provide the locally grown food I was looking for. I ended up at the Rice University Farmers Market.
The Rice University market is not new to Houston. It was originally a Heights landmark, before moving to the Rice campus in 2010. It’s only open from 3:30 to 6:30 on Tuesdays, and usually filled with people trying to get their locally grown produce for the week. The market has maintained its mission of making local food available for customers in the area, and making it a community marker. I popped in on Tuesday to see how things were going, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Rows of vegetables surrounded the market, gluten-free barbecue sauce tempted and sugar-free dulce de leche cookies were in the hands of just about everyone in the market. The enormous amount of beets available at each produce stand made it very clear that the sweet veggie is currently at the peak of its season. Amongst other popular items were Wagyu beef, known for having extremely low cholesterol, and cage-free eggs.
Sweet potato and oatmeal and coconut dog treats sold quickly, and customers were obsessed with Nisha’s Quick N Ezee Indian Food’s options. Signs declaring “no antibiotics” and “no hormones” reassured supporters of local farms that they were in the right place. To top things off, there’s even a food truck now. Ripe Cuisine—one of Houston's only vegan food trucks—makes regular appearances for those who just can’t wait to get home and cook and are hungry right now. And on days such as today, you'll also find the Juice Girl truck blending up fresh, all-organic juices and smoothies.
I’d planned to make this trip a purely observational one, but something at the Rice Univeristy market always reels me in. On this trip, it was Just Pure Flavors, a gourmet jam-making business. It was a difficult to choose between flavors like bacon-peanut butter and jalapeño, but I happily bought a jar of blackberry basil jam. At $12 a jar, it wasn’t a cheap splurge, but I’ve enjoyed it every single day since.