For myself, I might even classify going to the farmers’ market as an event! Eating locally carries health and environmental advantages certainly, but actually shopping there where you can connect with the growers and farmers is in a class of intangible benefits all on its own. Come see why this way of shopping has so many advantages and how to do it right.
I like the energy at farmers’ markets as well as the relaxed atmosphere. I enjoy the fact it is outdoors and there is often a band playing of some kind. I like seeing what is in season that week and learning why the farmers choose to grow what they do and how to best prepare it. I go to the regular food markets as well during the week, but I do like to patronize the locals where I can. Somehow, the experience at the farmers market is just nicer than stacking items on a conveyer belt and scanning a barcode.
There are plenty more reasons to go to your local farmers’ market listed further below as well as some other bits of guidance to make your experience valuable and worth coming back for week after week! Scan on down and don’t miss the links of other great bits, too, to help you get the most out of your time there.
HOW GOING TO YOUR LOCAL FARMERS’ MARKET CAN IMPROVE YOUR LIFE!
Besides that big “feel good” benefit, there are plenty of other reasons to consider heading over to your local market or even buying from a community grower. Look at some of these reasons that can benefit you, your community and others:
1. It supports those beautiful open farmlands and pastures.
We all appreciate gazing at those in our area, don’t we? If the local farms are financially successful, they do not sell out to commercial development.
Don’t miss this: New markets are frequently opening up all over the country. Go here to find a list of markets and growers in your area.
2. You can get the best dinner ideas.
Don’t have a clue what to make for dinner? No problem. Just wander through the market and you will get inspired. Talk to the growers as they will tell you the simplest and most delicious ways to prepare their produce and why they are so good for you.
3. The food is fresher and riper and much, much tastier.
That is because it is fresher and riper. The produce is often picked the morning of the market.
Don’t miss this: Your number one tip to make all your food taste fantastic!
4. More nutrients are present in the fresher and riper foods.
There are higher levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients in just picked foods ripened naturally.
Don’t miss this: Studies say nutrient levels in foods may be higher in organic and fresh foods.
5. The food is seasonal and sometimes much cheaper.
6. The free samples are . . . free!
Bring your hunger as that grower may provide samples of those odd-looking vegetables you have never tried before. You may just find a new one to lengthen your list of likes.
7. You can meet new foods.
The types of seasonal foods and other goods can be abundant. You can find items there not available in the regular stores.
8. Pick up a stunning flower arrangement to cheer your space.
The most beautiful wildflower selections can be found that will instantly brighten a spot at your house.
9. Treat yourself to a home-baked good.
Often there is a great selection of homey baked goods and all types of healthful breads are available to bring home. The jams and types of local honey are delicious, too.
10. You are helping grow a small business.
No middleman is involved, which leaves a higher profit margin for the farmers and growers, which keeps them coming back to the market in the first place.
HOW TO ENSURE THE FOOD IS REALLY ORGANIC
Get to know your growers! They like connecting with you just as much and want to see what you like, what you want to see more of and how they can do better.
If seeking organic produce, let your growers know it is important to you. And, if they claim their food is organic, here are some pointed questions to ask to ensure you are getting what you are seeking:
1. Is this produce certified organic or certified naturally grown?
You might also ask, depending on the answer, do you have any documentation such as the organic certification certificate?
Don’t miss this: A new organic certification for the small grower you should know about!
2. If not, why?
It costs a lot of money to become USDA organic certified for larger growers, thus, the grower may have chosen not to pursue it. See the link above regarding an alternative: certified naturally grown.
3. Did you grow this food and if so, with what chemicals?
Some farmers use legitimate organic growing practices but choose not to enter the certification process (as mentioned above). However, not everyone is upfront as, without certification, there’s no one checking. The term “no spray” should be questioned further as there are no regulatory requirements for this term.
4. May I stop by your farm?
You may or may not be able to do so or even be interested, but even if you don’t have time to visit the farm, it’s always a good sign if your farmer is open to the idea of having visitors and questions.
3 THINGS TO BRING ALONG TO YOUR LOCAL FARMERS’ MARKET
Besides your appetite, here are some things to grab before you go:
1. Something to carry your goods.
A bag or two from home, a basket or a tote all work well. Also, individual baggies can be helpful, too, for the individual produce and it can help save the landfill.
2. Cash and change.
Cash is always accepted as some growers only take cash – no credit.
3. Your open mind.
You never know what strange or even ugly looking vegetable or fruit you may see that could develop into a seasonal favorite. You may even make a friend along the way at the market as well.
SHOP FARMERS’ MARKET TOOLS
So, what is your favorite way to eat locally in your area? Tried anything new that you liked or didn’t like? How did you prepare it?
Supermarkets are major suppliers of fresh fruits and vegetables but generally are not strong competitors for sales of in-season crops. For example, supermarkets sell very little sweet corn when it is available at farmers markets or along roadsides. Other direct marketers, whether they are pick-your-own operations, roadside markets, farmers markets, or curb markets, are your primary competition. Be aware that entry and exit from the market can occur very quickly. In recent years direct marketers have expressed concern about the increased number of competitors and the possibility of profit loss in existing operations.