The farmers market welcomes back tomatoes this month

Locavores are wont to wax on about the superiority of seasonal produce, but nothing exemplifies their claim better than the seasonal tomato. The flavor of a locally grown or backyard tomato bursts with mouthwatering umami, its meaty flesh singing with the warmth of summer. And this month, Louisiana’s fresh tomatoes are at their peak.

“June really is the best month for local tomatoes,” says Darlene Rowland, executive director of BREADA, which operates the Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Red Stick Farmers Markets. “We start seeing them in late May, but June is when they’re really plentiful. In fact, June is probably our best month for produce across the board.”

Fresh tomatoes are the culinary Everest of green markets nationwide, but especially so in the Deep South, where they signal the return of white bread sandwiches with creamy mayo, caprese salads and simple sliced tomatoes served as a Sunday dinner side.

“People start asking (by April) when we’re going to have tomatoes, because there’s nothing else like them,” Rowland says.

Numerous Red Stick Farmers Markets growers are selling fresh tomatoes throughout the month. Look for slicing tomatoes in different sizes and colors, cherry and grape tomatoes and lots of heirloom varieties.

Buyers always seek out so-called Creole tomatoes—and they’ll see plenty of signs for them—but agricultural experts say the term is a general reference to tomatoes grown in the region, and not a specific variety.

To celebrate the return of tomato season, the Red Stick Farmers Market will host its annual Tomato Me Crazy celebration in conjunction with the market on Saturday, June 18, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Along with plenty of fresh tomatoes, the event features family-friendly activities and cooking demos. breada.org

This article was originally published in the June 2022 issue of 225 magazine.