#MenuMonday: Farm to Table Goodness

Farmer’s Market Finds

Tis the season to reap the fruits of our labors.

From fresh produce, to unique artists and savory cuisine, farmer’s markets are the quintessential hub for locals near and far. Farmer’s markets have been around for decades, providing the community with local food choices and special shopping experiences. However, in response to the increase in the human population, we have seen a quick takeover of large agri-business, making small farmers’ survival rate plummet. By helping stock our grocery shelves, large agri-business continues to thrive as shoppers rush to purchase their groceries and get to the next task at hand. BUT, have we forgotten our friend, the farmer’s market? It has never been more important than now to feed the masses. More importantly, we have to keep the small farmers producing and growing quality goods. So, if you haven’t shopped at the farmer’s market yet, here is why you should make the switch:

 

Benefits of Farmer's Markets

Source: Seela

 

Cheaper, Organic, and Insecticide-Free Options

Some of you may argue that eating organic can be rather costly which decreases the likelihood that you may purchase organic fruits and vegetables. However, the solution to making wiser food choices may just be right around the block. Farmer’s markets offer a variety of fresh, organic produce at a more favorable cost than the grocery store. Due to the bureaucracy around growing organic foods, some farmers offer other options like herbicide and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables. The benefit of shopping at the farmer’s market is that you actually ask the farmers themselves how their produce is grown in order to make the healthiest choices for you and your family.

Know Where Your Goods Come From

Because of the economic transformation of the working class from primarily blue collar to white collar, we have lost touch with our foods. Many farmer’s markets now offer profiles of each farmer and artisan with great information to help you learn more about how your food is produced and where it comes from. Moreover, sellers are often present at the market to provide answers to questions you have been itching to ask. Local farmers and artisans often have facilities that they open to the public in order to learn more about the hard work that goes into providing the masses with quality goods. A trip to the farmer’s market may be just what you need to reconnect with the things you put in your mouth.

Stay In Season

Our new generation of consumers has grown so accustomed to shopping at a grocery store that we have lost touch with foods that are in season. Unlike its largest competitor, the farmer’s market does not seek to import foods to provide untimely choices, but rather offers foods that are local and in season. Shopping at the market can help restore your knowledge of what nature provides in your region all year round. With asparagus ready to plate in early spring, peaches ripe to pick beside the corn in the summer, and squash and pumpkin ready to bake in the fall, the farmer’s market is just the place to anticipate your seasonal spread.

Enjoy Real and Rich Flavors

The produce you can purchase at the farmer’s market is by far the freshest and most flavorful available. Because the foods are grown locally, they are able to ripen and brought straight to the market for you to grab. These fruits and vegetables are not boxed, shipped, and stored before they are ready to purchase, nor do they require special agents to ripen and ready them to hit the shelf at the grocery store. The produce is typically only days old and farm fresh. Mmmm juicy!

farmers-market-produce

Source: Miami Happening

 

Delight in Variety

Grocery stores usually stock enough fruits and vegetables to cover the entire color wheel, but there is so much more! Did you know that carrots come in more than just orange, heirloom tomatoes vary in shape, size and color, cauliflower can be white or purple, watermelon comes in smaller forms like the cucamelon, radishes can be black, garlic can be green, duck and quail lay edible eggs too, and maitake mushrooms are just as common as the shiitake mushrooms you find in the grocery store? Shopping at a farmer’s market will certainly open your eyes to our world’s vast biodiversity and enable you to open your taste palate to foods you have never tried.

 

Encourage Humane Treatment

Farmer’s markets are the businesses of small farmers and independent artisans everywhere, which means you can find meats, cheeses, produce, eggs, and various other goods that have not been touched by the hand of mass production. While browsing the market, you will likely find organically grown produce with zero insecticide or herbicide use as well as meats, eggs, and cheeses from animals that have grazed on open, green pastures and have never been touched by hormones or antibiotics. By purchasing your foods from farmer’s market, you are helping give a voice to the mistreated animals in feedlots and cages as well as the large push of genetic modification and mass production of goods.

 

Support Family Farmers

Due to large agri-business’ takeover of food production, small family farmers find it more and more difficult to compete. Buying your foods from the farmer’s market or straight from the farm itself can help keep the small farmers in business. By keeping small farmer’s alive, we can continue to reap the benefits of better quality food choices and help keep the farming tradition alive.

Protect the Environment

Food shipped from all over the world is exactly what you will find in a typical grocery store. The average food in the U.S. actually travels  close to 1,500 miles before it gets to your mouth. Shipping such distances uses vast amounts of packaging materials, develops trash and excess waste, and requires natural resources like fossil fuels which greatly contribute to pollution. Goods at the farmer’s market usually travel short distances to get to your table. Moreover, it will tend to have less impact on the earth while conventional farming methods pollute water, soil, and air and call for greater use of toxic wastes. Buying your meals at the farmer’s market is a sure-fire way to minimize your own impact on the environment!

 

 

Shopping at your local farmer’s market can bring you closer to the network of people that you call a community and can make your shopping a more pleasant experience. So the next time you plan your weekly grocery shopping trip, make a plan to swing by the farmer’s market first!

 

 

– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC