First Look: New White House Farmers' Market

"Michelle Obama started her speech by saying she had never seen so many people excited about fruits and vegetables."


[Photographs: Tressa Eaton]

White House Farmers’ Market

810 Vermont Avenue NW, Washington DC 20005 (b/n H and I Streets; map)
Hours: Open Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. through Oct. 29.

The brand new White House Farmers' Market (run by local market organization FreshFarm Markets) opened for the first time yesterday on Vermont Avenue between H and I streets, just outside the White House grounds.

After waiting in a huge line, shoppers passed through metal detectors, got patted down by secret service, and had their reusable market bags inspected. Waiting on the other side of the metal detectors were fruit and vegetable farmers, meat farmers, producers, cheese makers, and flower vendors.


D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty shopping for Asian pears.


From left: Michelle Obama shaking hands; beets marketing.

The directors of FreshFarm Markets joined D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty and a local farmer to speak about how important the market's opening day was. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack warmed up the crowd saying that "Every family in this country needs a farmer."


Soggy day outside


Secret service checking bags.

Michelle Obama started her speech by saying she had never seen so many people excited about fruits and vegetables. She talked about the overwhelming success of the White House Garden and her own path to local, healthy eating.


She admitted that she often resorted to take-out for her family before having butlers and cooks around, but thanks to farmers' markets, families can now eat fresh, real food much easier. She also acknowledged that parents everywhere are trying to do the best they can for their kids and that the bad-for-you food is also often the cheapest.


Michelle Obama also drew connections between healthcare costs and cheap food, noting that a new approach to eating is what helps her family get through the day, whether they're having a cabinet meeting or tackling math homework.


Michelle Obama after her speech.

After her speech, Mrs. Obama worked the line of cheering supporters, shaking hands with excited shoppers and eventually shopping (with a nifty market basket in tow) for cherry tomatoes and kale at The Farm at Sunnyside. White House Chef Sam Kass would not reveal what he planned to do with this dino kale.


Shopping for dino kale.

The crowd was filled with excited federal employees cheering (and watching from windows) as Mrs. Obama mentioned the nearby offices of the Treasury, the GSA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Now that the market has officially opened, area workers can dash out to pick up produce for dinner during an afternoon break or en route to the Metro. The market is steps away from the McPherson Square and the Farragut West Metro stops.


Jose Andres (center)

Many D.C. chefs were present, including José Andrés of Cafe Atlantico, Jaleo, Zaytinya, and Oyamel; Todd Gray of Equinox (where Mrs. Obama celebrated her birthday in January); White House pastry chef Bill Yosses; and White House assistant chef Sam Kass who has been an active participant in the White House Garden project.

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The new White House Farmers’ Market, located at 810 Vermont Avenue NW (between H and I Streets) will be open on Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. through Oct. 29. All vendors at the market accept food stamps and WIC and senior citizen coupons.


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