Union to Madison Square

Union Square Greenmarket

The teeming throngs that pinch, poke, and sniff the Greenmarket's edibles include home cooks and four-star chefs, kids thirsty for after-school cider and Chinese grandmothers seeking squid and lemongrass. Whether they're knowing acolytes of Alice Waters is questionable, but they're certainly beneficiaries of her back-to-the-land regional food movement. Here, at the city's flagship Greenmarket, customers not only have access to homegrown produce, pretzels, meats, cheeses, jams, and honeys but a chance to meet the local farmers, bakers, and harvesters behind them. Much of the fare is organic or naturally-grown, and all of it is local, including brick-thick marbled Delmonicos cut from grass-fed beef, succulent tangles of organic greens, and bushels of heirloom apples and pears. Vendors at the year-round market say their farms have been preserved by the chance to sell directly to consumers and chefs. Indeed, the line for space at Union Square can take years, with wait-listed vendors relegated to less-popular markets or the outer boroughs. — Helen Zelon

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