If you’re unfamiliar with what a farmers market is, it’s a physical retail marketplace that’s intended to sell foods directly from farmers to consumers. It may be indoors or outdoors, where farmers and artisans rent a booth, table or stand and sell their product. You may also find food trucks, live music, and other events.
I’m going to make a more conscious effort to shop, eat and consumer more local. For me, my family, community, local economy and the environment! Sure, I’ve been trying to support small businesses and when I’m at the grocery store I look for a “Local” labelled item. And occasionally go to the farmers markets when they’re in season. After taking a look in my pantry, fridge and the produce on my counter, I realize how much of it all travels hundreds(& thousands) of miles just to get to the shelf.
It’ll be a process, but visiting a farmers market once or multiple times a week should make it more convenient and easier. After if you’re curious to why it’s better for us all to shop your local farmers markets, read below.
10 Reasons Why I’m Shopping Farmers Markets – And you should too!
- NOURISH YOURSELF
Did you know most of the food you find at a grocery store is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and genetically modification. And in transit some of it has been irradiated, waxed or gassed – which has negative effects on our health. Something I’ve read lately that stuck with me was, most produce loses 30 percent of nutrients three days after harvest.
Most food found at our farmers markets is minimally processed and picked right before the market.
- BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Food in the US on average travels a little over 1,400 miles to get to your plate. This leads to the excessive use of natural resources, contributes to pollution and trash from extra packaging. Food you find at the farmers market is transported shorter distances, grown using methods that minimize the impact on our earth, no extra wasteful packaging.
- LESS FOOD WASTE
Did you know 40% of the food produced in the US today is wasted from seed to plate – occurring from production and harvest to distribution and consumption. Due to shorter distribution chains, less food is wasted if purchased from local farmers. 90% of Americans Could Be Fed by Food Grown or Raised Within 100 Miles of Their Homes.
- SUPPORT SMALL & FAMILY FARMS
Vital to our economy and well-being as a nation. They protect and enhance natural resources and the environment. Maintain rural populations. With large agribusiness’ dominating food production in the US, small family farms have a hard time competing.
- KNOW WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM
By visiting the farmers market you get to connect with your local farmers/artisans and see where your food/product comes from. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about how and where their food is produced. And if you go to your local farmers market website, they usually have more information on each farm and artisan – visit their websites and follow them on social media. Maybe they offer farm tours and/or visits?
- PROMOTES HUMANE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS
This goes along with knowing where your food comes from. At the farmers market you’ll find local meats, seafood, cheeses, milks and eggs from animals that have been raised without antibiotics or hormones, eaten natural diets and humane living conditions. A few years ago I made the switch to only purchasing cruelty free products and this past year working towards eating organically and purchasing from brands who practice humane living conditions(& death). Which I’ve learned while at the grocery store it isn’t as easy as looking at the “organic” label, you have to search a company online and learn about them. It can be very misleading, but not at a farmers market.
- REAL FLAVORS OF EACH SEASON
The fruits, vegetables, grains, seafood, meats, cheeses, eggs, and milks you buy at the farmers market is the freshest and most delicious available. Fruits are allowed to ripen fully in the field and brought straight to you. Food is all seasonal, you get to reconnect with nature, weather and turning of the year. Eating and cooking with each season is something I’m both excited for but a little nervous because we love so many things year round – like watermelon, avocado, bananas and citrus.
Typically, especially during peak farmers market season, you can find everything you’ll need for your meal. You can also find unusual or foods you won’t see at the grocery store like duck eggs, green tomatoes, kohlrabi, sunchokes and so much more. Give different foods a try, you may find you like it.
- HAVE LUNCH
If you work near a farmers market or have the day off, it’s the perfect location to grab a bite to eat. They usually have a few different options to choose from and all are delicious and fresh. One of my favorite things to do when we go to the market is get a variety things from the food trucks/stands. The market on Saturday that we just visited had smoothies, tamales, woodfired pizza(they had a portable fire oven), Indian food, Filipino food, ice cream, empanadas, and popcicles (made locally with natural ingredients). Yum!
- LEARN FROM THE FARMERS, RANCHERS & ARTISANS
Learn cooking tips, meal ideas, and/or recipes from your local farmers, ranchers and artisans – they are often passionate about cooking and will often give you advice on the foods they are selling. Ask them if they have food blogs, books, or host cooking demonstrations. A lot of them are very knowledgeable in the kitchen.
Just a few tips if you’re new to shopping at the farmers market and changes after 2020;
- Wear a face mask, use hand sanitizer as needed, obey signage and give people space.
- Be prepared to wait in a line if it’s busy and your state has an occupancy limit, if you’d like to avoid it as much as possible arrive early.
- Come with a shopping list or an idea of what you may want to purchase – our local markets have a 20 minute limit.
- Most likely no sampling, touching produce, events, public seating areas.
- Check your local markets website to see if any of the vendors have pre-paid orders available or if they’re doing curbside pick up.
- Bring a large reusable bag and/or a market basket, it just makes carrying things around so much easier, save plastic bags and not every vendor will have a bag for you. And if you’re buying multiple things think of bringing separate bags – I know I hate mixing meats in with my produce.
- Don’t just go for the perfect produce, some vendors will give you a discounted price and they taste just as good.
- If you’re looking for fresh cut flowers, the farmers market is the PERFECT place to get them. Fresh, they last a while and they’re reasonably priced.
- If you can’t make it home immediately after the market, store a cooler with ice packs in your trunk to store stuff.
Do you enjoy shopping at your local farmers market? What are your must buy items when you go?