Farmers Market 101
I often here people tell me they "don't shop at Farmers Markets".
That "it's too expensive". That "they are on a budget". They "are a family of _____ and it's too much money too feed them this way".
(Disclaimer: I am ALWAYS on a budget).
Years ago, it made sense to me NOT to shop at one. I thought whatever produce and products I could find, my grocery store would have it for less.
(LOL, boy was I sorely misinformed there...)
I quickly grew tired of seeing the same items at my local grocer, often paying way more for produce that was at best, sub par.
I also never really knew if produce came from where it claimed it did. In 2014, I started becoming really involved in my health and my spending and I wanted to know where my food came from and if my money was was spent wisely. I knew that I wanted to eat better and start living a healthier lifestyle. So one day, I just stopped buying at the local grocery store (unless it was for toiletries) and I took my existing budget for fresh produce and fruit ($20/week) and I took to the streets (of the farmers markets).
At first, I started looking to the Farmers Markets as a way to interact with others who are passionate about their craft, farmers who take pride in their labor, and artisans who share their gifts with us.
It took a while to actually pull the trigger and use those $20. But then I did, and it was all over. I was hooked. It was a rush like I never felt before. I tasted fruit that was rich, ripe, fresh.
Produce that held a vibrancy in color and also in taste. Local products that were refined, and the ultimate in care. Knowledgeable and caring farmers, that were honest and ready to educate you about their lives and their crops. My eyes were open for the 1st time in a long time in regards to food and health. I became healthy, stronger, more aware of fresh ingredients that changed the way I cooked. I became a better chef. My family was healthy. I enjoyed cooking more. I was a farmers market convert.
I was a believer. I was IN like FLINN.
Since then, I have continued to find new items at the market for me to use with my meals and stay within the (said) budget.
A day at a Farmers Market makes me so happy. It's a way for me to be around other food enthusiasts, artisans, neighbors, dog and baby parents, farmers and musicians.
The vibe is fun, energetic and positive. It's a great way to spend the day (or part of the day). I have seemed to add this little jaunt of fun into my vacations too- because a market exists EVERYWHERE!
I always try and get something that is fresh, and local first- then unique and useful second (like those cool, local finds). It's rare that I eat at Farmer's Market (usually I already had breakfast) but
I am a fan of the juice people- (you know who they are - they have a juice to help you prevent and treat "everything"- and I love them all). I also love to see the new food vendors, who share their culture with us through the various foods at the market- there are so many special treats that you can not find at your local grocery store. It's worth taking a stroll and $30 with you to your local farmers market.
I usually try to navigate and say hi to vendors and artisans that I frequent often and re-stock on my essentials. When on vacation, I look for what is local and try to bring something back home with me. You just never know what you will taste, find and buy. Wherever I am, whatever market, I always end my day coming home and looking thru my bags as if it was Christmas and I was 5 years old all over again.
It amazes me at how each artisan at the market takes their time to craft whatever it is I am holding in my hand. Their sense of pride sits in my hands, as do their long hours of labor, all for the sake of living the american dream; to do what you want to do. It gives me perspective on life, and it reminds me to continue to believe that we all are truly blessed by other peoples gifts in this world.
The summer months are also great time for finding squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, stone fruit, leafy greens, and pod vegetables such a green beans and the last of the season night shades (eggplants).
For my household- they are the quintessential ingredients to aide in a great meal. Market produce by far has more vibrancy even more nutrients that make us feel good (Note: If you eat well at home, you can 'afford' those extra fun calories whenever you want) than what you get at the grocery store. That is because it didn't travel far to get to you. Some have even been picked that morning and are a fresh as the little bugs on them.
What can you do with market produce and fruit? Feel free to put together a salad, grill up the veggies, serve them as a side, add into your morning (egg) hash or add them to a smoothie. It's the bounty of flavor that is part of the experience of the market. It's a pretty good way to eat.
It's this particular time in San Diego that I tend to lean towards zuchinnis or tomato, not only because they are plentiful, but they tend to have a sweet, succulent taste to them that don't need much to turn them into a great meal. However, I have to be fair to all the farmers and the artisans and get things that will work with me for the whole week.
So here is my tips on getting what you want at the market:
- Buy Produce 1st, then Fruits. (Produce will work with all meals). Purchase 5 different types produce. You can always change it up week by week.
- Select the fruit that will be used for snacking on the go, for work, or for the kids. Think Melons, Stone Fruit, and Berries and Citrus- they are filled with most antioxidants and you don't need to eat much of it.
- Always get a local find- they help to continue to support vendors and it might be a time saver condiment that can be useful in a lot of ways. Think, pestos, marinades, dressings, oils, breads, etc.
Before you know it, you will adapt to your own shopping list- and find that purchasing at a market really IS beneficial to you. You will feel better- promise.
So, how about if you join me the next time I shop at a market? Want to Shop With Me at a Farmers Market?
I'm hosting FREE monthly shopping every month in 2017- Sign up here and join me in person (San Diego) or virtually each month at the market.
I will show you how to make something from your fresh produce each month via a live video tutorial. Sign up HERE and get Notified when I go live at the Market!
Until Next Time,