Everything tastes better when it comes from a farmer’s market. There’s just something about fresh food. In Walden, Thoreau talks about blueberries, noting that the fresh berries taste much better than those at the market. That captured my imagination – it made sense. Then I began to notice it too. Fresh foods really do have more flavor. And so began my love affair with farmer’s markets.
Now that spring is finally here, farmer’s markets are opening all over the country. This means that just about anywhere you are you can find one nearby. When you purchase from a farmer’s market you support the local economy as well as small farms. True, supermarkets offer convenience, allowing you to purchase produce when it is out of season, but you get fresher food that tastes better when you hit the market. Plus, generally speaking, the fresher the food, the more nutrients it retains. Farm fresh foods don’t undergo as many processes as other foods that strip it of nutrients.
I went to the opening day of the Farmer’s Market here in Charleston. I’ve long been a fan of these markets, plus I was covering the opening for a client, writing a review and taking photos. It got me thinking of how much better farm fresh produce is and how much fun the markets can be. So, here are a few tips for getting the most out of your local farmer’s market.
Find a farmer’s market. The USDA has a farmer’s market directory that is exceptional. Search by zip code or state to find markets near you. It also has a map feature that gives driving directions. Each market has a brief synopsis that you can view and information regarding the types of payment that is accepted. This is a great tool to use no matter where you are. Just enter your location and you can find a market near you.
Talk to the farmers. Aside from the value of fresh, local food, another benefit of shopping at a farmer’s market is that it usually puts you directly in touch with the person who grew the food and brought it to the market. You can ask them how food was grown, how long the food will be in season, even how you can grow the same foods on you own. Many times they can give you tips for preparing and storing the food you buy from them – and they are usually very happy to share their knowledge with you.
Go for more than just the produce. Farmer’s markets now have so much more than just fruits and vegetables. Yesterday, I picked up some absolutely amazing Red Heat Relish from Great Food Co Op. Their homemade chips are incredible too. Next time I go I am getting the Peach Salsa; I have heard nothing but good things about it. At the Charleston market there were all sorts of vendors selling tea, coffee, bread, jewelry, and so much more. I picked up a bottle of Holy Smoke smoked olive oil and oh, my goodness! I used it that evening and it was incredible! Had I not gone to the market I would have never known of these goodies.
Going to the farmer’s market is a great family outing as well as a fantastic way to get farm fresh foods and meet some pretty cool people in the process.
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