Why To Shop Farmers Markets

Why to Shop Farmers Markets

 

Farmers Markets are great places to buy most anything you’d want to eat! By comparison to any other grocer, the food is fresher and tastier, which makes a difference. I get asked all the time: “Why does your meal taste better?” …Let me tell you, it all boils down to ingredients. And where might you find the best ingredients? At the Farmers Markets, of course!

 

There you’ll find all the seasonal produce you can imagine and more! Yes, more. Farmers don’t just stick to the same ol’ varieties you find in your local supermarket. So, you get the opportunity to try all kinds of varieties outside of the “norm.” It’s not just glorious, colorful fruits and veggies either, you can also find farm fresh (ranch direct) eggs, high-quality meat and chicken, sustainable fish, local honey, delicious nut and seed butters… and those are just the staples. Farmers Markets are also hubs for specialty items like dairy-free cheeses, yogurts, and kefirs; gut-healing, fermented foods like kombucha and kimchee; and artisanal delights like goat and sheep cheeses, sour dough and paleo breads, and even homemade butter. Plus, they have so many gluten free treats! Breads… pastries… macaroons… mmm…

 

But perhaps my favorite features of the markets are the farmers themselves. They’re so informative and cool. Throughout my 30 years of shopping at the same market, I’ve been lucky enough to call some of these farmers my friends.

 

Farmer Danny and Me

 

But aren’t Farmers Markets really expensive?

YES and NO.

 

Depending on where you live, some Farmers Markets may have more competitive prices than others. But what I want to preface is how a farmer gets their fresh-picked produce to you.

 

They are up in the wee hours of the morning (around 2-3am) picking and packing up their trucks. Then they drive upwards of 2-3 hours to get their freshly picked produce to multiple, local markets. (Remember: “local” refers to a 100-mile radius, so it can still be a trek.) Then, they sell all day to us folks, pack up, and head home to start all over again (usually 6 days a week). For me, buying a zucchini that is maybe $0.50/lb. more than a grocery store, is worth it to support sustainably-grown, pesticide-free, farm-freshness. AND the taste is incomparable.

 

TIP for folks on a budget: shops towards the end of the market (around 30-60 minutes before closing) and YOU, my friends, will get all the deals! You might not get the first picks or ALL the farmers offerings, but heck, it’s still high-quality produce at an awesome price! At the end of the day, the farmers would rather sell what they have to you, than lug it back to the farm.

How do I know if farmers are really telling the truth about the produce they grow? How do I know it’s really organic or sustainably farmed? Whatever “sustainable” means…

 

Great question! Farmers Markets have Farmers Market Managers. Their job is literally to visit their vendors’ farms and make sure the farmer is selling only what they grow. IF the farmer doesn’t comply with the strict rules, they get kicked out of the market! I’ve seen it done. So, there is definitely a culture of accountability. However, this still doesn’t make them perfect…

 

The Truth About “Organic”

Organic farmers can still use up to 33% chemicals and pesticides on their crops. Period.

 

WHAT? Yes. My oldest and dearest farmer friend of over 30 years, Dan Hashiba, shared this dirty little secret with me. He doesn’t operate his farm that way, but it is important to keep in mind as you visit your local market.

 

Organic agriculture nevertheless carries less risk than standard, industrial agriculture. So I still recommend organic produce as a great first step. But did you know there’s an even better option? It’s called sustainable or regenerative farming. Farmers using regenerative practices do not use any chemical pesticides what so ever. Some smaller vendors even sell beautiful regenerative produce harvested from their own backyards! How cool is that?

 

Just keep in mind that, unlike organics, there is no official certification process for regenerative or sustainable farming. This can actually be a good thing. After all, many small farms cannot afford the astronomically expensive, time intensive process of organic certification, even though they operate with best practices.

 

So how do you know you’re getting the good stuff?  

Just ask.

 

Vendors at the markets are required by law to tell the truth about their pesticide use. It is our personal responsibility to get over our potential fear or embarrassment, and just ask. Trust me, farmers are more than happy to answer your questions. Not just about pesticides, either. Sometimes it’s just fun to “talk crop.” It’s how I’ve made some of my best produce discoveries and how I’ve become friends with some of the coolest people I know.

 

Ultimately, Farmers Markets are the gold standard for high-quality, minimally-processed, close-to-the-source produce. And those are the kinds of ingredients that make the biggest difference in your cooking and your health. Just be sure to shop smart. Here are my tips:

Manhattan Beach farmers market Haul

Why to Shop Farmers Markets Tips

  1. Get to know your farmers.
    • Ask the farmer or helpers questions like:
      • Do they spray chemicals, herbicides, fungicides or pesticides on their produce?
      • What type of water do they use: AG, well, or reclaimed?
      • When do they harvest their crops? And how long are they in cold storage?
      • How far did they travel that day?
    • Knowing your farmer personally helps you learn exactly who is growing your food, and they get to know you! You are also supporting local agriculture and the people who help feed us! It’s a total feel good!

 

  1. Learn what fruits and veggies are in season when.
    • Remember that “in season” will depend on your region. Different parts of the world experience seasons differently.
      • Your friendly farmer or market worker can help you with this
      • BONUS TIP: in season produce is usually less expensive anyway

 

Don’t have year-round availability to a market? Try a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) like Farm Fresh to You or when shopping at your local grocer, be sure to buy pesticide free, organics.

 

For further reading, check out these GREAT science-backed articles:

https://rodaleinstitute.org/why-organic/organic-basics/organic-vs-conventional/

https://rodaleinstitute.org/science/

https://rodaleinstitute.org/why-organic/organic-faqs/

 

Its ALL About the SOIL! What is Regenerative Farming and how is it different than organic?

https://getwholesome.com/better-planet?gclid=Cj0KCQjw-NaJBhDsARIsAAja6dOERBEBS1-6fM7-XJMSlwFDugFPzwTNzlJFcxAFV4-j0NjziZykSgoaAkRlEALw_wcB

https://kisstheground.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2W8dKdgGhc

https://www.nycfoodpolicy.org/8-must-watch-new-documentaries-on-sustainable-agriculture/

 

Biggest Little Farm Documentary.

Clip is https://www.google.com/search?q=biggest+little+farm+trailer&rlz=1C5CHFA_enUS843US843&oq=Biggest+LIttle+farm&aqs=chrome.2.0i355i433i512j46i433i512j0i512l3j0i457i512j0i512l4.7499j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *