Best Soulard Market Produce - 2000
In one familial permutation or another, the Kruses may or may not have the longest continued run at the Soulard Market, with a lineage that can be traced to Arlene Kruse's grandparents. It seems that's a tough claim to verify, but it's of little consequence in sorting the best from the better. Kruse Gardens, of Columbia, Ill., has the best produce on the row. Every Saturday, the bulk of the Kruse selection is homegrown, organic (though not "certified"), non-genetically modified good food. Everything the Kruses bring to the market is grown in accord with principles of sustainability: They plant from their own seeds, sow crops in fall to till under in spring and eschew herbicides. It's all brought unwashed as well, cleaned on-site to maximize freshness. What results is a remarkable array of what Earl Kruse terms "unusual and unique" produce. There may be homegrown lemongrass, white eggplant, bitter melons, heirloom tomatoes, catnip and more and more. It's a labor of love for Arlene, Earl likes the fresh air and exercise, and there's a coterie of the dedicated for whom the stall is their first stop. At the Kruses, you can take advantage of what's best about a farmers' market: freshness, variety and knowledgeable proprietors.