One of my absolute favorite things about Spring is the return of our local farmer’s market. I’m fortunate to live in a city that has a very well known farmer’s market, which is open year round. However, it’s not very convenient to my house, the crowds can get overwhelming, and parking is hard to find. In the winter and colder weather it’s a fantastic option, but in the Spring I’m all about my local farmer’s market.
My local farmer’s market is a only a few minutes away from my house, there’s always plenty of parking, and I always run into friends. I love being able to spy on what they have in their baskets and the market’s small size makes it easy to navigate (especially if I’m short on time!).
With more attention and focus being paid to local, organic food, most cities, large and small, have seen a growing trend toward farmer’s markets. My parents happen to live in a city where there are no fewer than 5 each weekend!
Here are my top 5 reasons why you should seek out and shop at your local farmer’s market:
KNOW WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM
It’s so important to know where your food comes from, so you know what you’re feeding your family. Is it from a sustainable farm with low environmental impact? Are your eggs from chickens that are cage-free or free-range? What are the cows being feed? All these questions can be answered when you shop at your local farmer’s markets. Why? Because……..
GET TO KNOW (and SUPPORT) YOUR LOCAL FARMERS
……..you can ask, directly, the farmer how the food was grown, harvested and cared for. Farmers love to answer questions, so ask away! From tips and techniques to cooking, to how the food was grown, to where the fish was caught.
Also most small farms are unable to compete with large agriculture and grocery chains, so buying directly from the local farmers helps them grow and maintain an imprint in the food marketplace.
SEASONAL INGREDIENTS SIMPLY TASTE BETTER
There is nothing better than eating an apple that was just picked this morning, fish that was caught a few hours ago, eggs that were laid yesterday. Farmer’s markets have the freshest products because they haven’t spent time in the back of a container box being shipped across the country, or stored for weeks in the back of a store.
There is a reason you don’t make pumpkin pie in August. Although you could make it with canned pumpkin, it’s so much better to wait until Fall when fresh pumpkins are in season.
Seasonal ingredients have the truest and most authentic flavors.
Have you ever bought strawberries at the grocery store and are disappointed to find they taste bitter, or worse, they don’t really have a taste at all. It’s because they weren’t picked at the peak of their ripeness. Farmer’s markets only carry what is fresh right now.
Farm to table isn’t just available at fancy restaurants. Farmer’s markets make it possible for everyone to have access to farm to table.
HIGHLY PROCESSED VS. MINIMALLY PROCESSED
Most food you find in your grocery store has been highly processed with added hormones, pesticides, and genetic modification. Over time we have become more educated about how highly processed foods negatively affect our health. I was shocked to learn that the reason why some produce is shiny, is due to it being waxed to make it look better to consumers.
On the other hand, the majority of foods found at farmer’s markets is minimally processed. Most farmers use sustainable methods that are not only environmentally friendly, but better for our health. If you have questions about the processes they use to grow their food, you can ask the farmer directly.
Are you tired of cooking the same old broccoli and carrots every night? At your local farmer’s market you’ll find produce and fruit that is unique to your region and not necessarily available at your grocery store. You will also have access to a much wider variety of lettuce, carrots, apples, tomatoes, eggs and so much more, than is available at your grocery store. As the weather warms up, we tend to eat a lot more salad in my family. One of my favorite things to buy is the salad mix, which comes with a combination of different lettuces and fresh herbs like dill and tarragon.
So next time you find yourself driving by your local farmer’s market, stop by and take a look around. Cooking farm to table at home is just a market away!