Farmers Market Shopping Guide

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So maybe you’re an expert gardener.. You grow, harvest and prepare your own food like a champ, but let’s face it - you can’t grow all the things. Often you don’t have space or time for more labor intensive crops. Some stuff, like the yield of larger plants like fruit trees and berry bushes, or animal products like milk, cheese, and eggs (hen house, anyone?) are often best left outsourced to the professionals. If you haven’t already, try finding your local Farmers Market to stock up on the goods that will help round out your culinary experience.

Farmer’s Market Fresh:

First and foremost, food at the Farmers Market tastes better than what you might buy at a chain supermarket. There’s a good chance it actually IS better: it’s probably fresher, more flavorful and more nutritious just by virtue of having fewer miles to travel to get to your mouth. But there’s also something about Farmers Markets that makes you feel more connected, an experience that carries through to the enjoyment of your food.

It’s About The Journey

Farmers Markets give you the opportunity to get to know your food and the journey it took to get to you, as well as the people who helped it along the way. Farmers and market employees are a wealth of knowledge about their produce and products, and are often eager to tell you about it (as a Farmers Market employee, I can tell you we can be quite chatty with very minimal provocation). This gives you the chance to learn about your food, and to connect with the folks in your community who bring it to you. The Farmers Market I work at can sometimes feel like a big outdoor party - a place where neighbors come together over food, and to appreciate the work that went into the food.

Just like knowing where your food comes from feels good, knowing where (and to whom) your dollars go can have similar pleasurable effects. Especially when you consider that each dollar you spend at local businesses vs a chain retailer generates 3.5x the amount of wealth for the local economy. Shopping at Farmers Markets can connect you with your community and give you the opportunity to invest in it.

Single Use Plastic: Out, Sustainable Living: In.

Farmers Markets are also a reliably eco-friendly choice. As I mentioned, the food travels fewer miles, but you can also often find food in bulk - i.e. not covered in plastic. To support less waste from the food system, remember to bring your own containers and produce bags when you go on your trips to the Farmers Market.

Here are some fun things to expect from the Farmers Market this spring and summer!

  • Flowers - Farmers Markets are a fantastic place to buy flowers, both decorative and edible. Locally grown, flowers will stay fresh for longer and you can often find some fun and new varieties.

  • Leafy Greens - it’s salad season. Lettuces and arugula are cooler weather greens that will be best in the spring and fall, but you will probably still be able to find them at markets through the summer.

  • Berries - the beautiful berries will start to come out by early-mid summer. We’re talking gorgeous blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries. If you’re like me, these often don’t make it all the way home from market…

  • Tomatoes - they’re back. Get all of the tomato varieties your heart desires. For me, that’s cherry tomatoes and zebra tomatoes. Pair it with a nice cheese from the market and summer will officially be on.

  • Peppers - Spice up life again with all the peppers you desire. Peppers come in all shapes and sizes, and you can experiment with peppers at the Farmers Market to figure out what you might want to plant in your garden next season.

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Get inspired at the Farmers Market by letting what’s in season dictate your next meal. By shopping and eating locally, you are reducing your environmental impact while supporting your community AND getting the freshest produce--win, win, win!

Louisa Pitney