Monday, April 11, 2011

Six Reasons to Love Farmer's Markets

Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

I have a confession.  I'm a glutton for farmer's markets!  I'm really grateful that there are so many farmer's markets within a short distance of where I live so that I can get my fix on a regular basis.  My experience with farmer's markets goes all the way back to my childhood when my mom would take me to our small town farmer's market on weekends.  In grad school, my friends and I would head to a couple of local farmer's markets on the weekends.  As a traveler, I also love to check out the farmer's markets to get the best of the local fare.  While there are many reasons to love visiting farmer's markets, I thought I'd boil it down to my top five.

Enjoy fresh, seasonal produce that is harvested at the peak of freshness and taste.  There's really something great about food that hasn't traveled thousands of miles, been stored for long periods, or been treated to enhance the ripening process.  Not only is the produce fresher, but I can also honestly say that produce from the farmer's market is tastier and seems richer than that from the grocery store.

Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

Enhance your connection to your food.  I really enjoy the fact that I get to meet the actual farmers or the employees of the farm from which I'm purchasing my food.  When I get to talk to them face-to-face, I find out so much more about my food:  how it's grown, where it's grown, and who's growing it.  Two weekends ago I purchased strawberries from a farm that is about 5 miles from my home.  I've learned that while the farm is not "certified organic", their crops are still organically produced.  To top it off, the workers are just nice people!  Somehow those strawberries were just that much more enjoyable to me.

Learn insider tips on how to choose and prepare produce.  Farmers and vendors are experts on the food that they sell, so they can give you tips on how to select the best vegetable or fruit.  They also are very excited to share preparation tips with you,too.  I find it very hard to get that kind of service in many grocery stores.

Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

Save money.  Not only do you get nutritious, delicious, and fresh produce, but you can also save money while you're at it.  Not everything is offered at a rock bottom price at the farmer's market, but you sure can get some great deals.  This weekend I purchased a 5 lb bag of oranges for $2.50 and a huge bag of lemons for $1!

Support the local community.  By supporting your local farmer's markets, you are supporting local farmers, which helps keep them in your community and maintains local food systems.

It is an experience.  I don't know about you, but when I shop at the grocery store, my goal is to get in, get my food, and get out most of the time.  However, when I go to a farmer's market, I actually like to take my time there.  I want to talk to the vendors, sample the food, and check out all of the offerings.  I enjoy sharing this experience with my family.  I love that the farmers and I can all teach my children about food.   I love that my daughter met the cattle rancher that raised the grass-fed beef that we've had for dinner and that she asks about him when we go to that farmer's market.  

Are you interested in finding a farmer's market near you?
If you're in California, you can search for certified farmer's markets in your area here.
If you're in another state, you can search for farmer's markets in your area here and here.

Do you visit farmer's markets?  What do you enjoy about it?     


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