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Making the Most of Your Local Farmer's Market

beth May 21, 2013
Making the Most of Your Local FarmerImage by CEBImagery.com

I am a huge fan of my local farmer”s market.  Something about shopping in the fresh air, purchasing things from people who become like friends over time is soothing to the soul.  Of course, I can”t purchase everything I need for the week there; but there”s more than enough to keep me coming back every week.  These are the four things that make shopping at my local farmer’s market in conjunction with conventional grocery stores most worth it for me.  Not all of these options will be available at every farmer’s market, but it’s a great place to start on your journey to better health.

Fresh Produce

I spent the first twenty years of my life on a farm, where my dad planted a large garden every summer.  Since moving away from home, and into a small apartment where growing your produce becomes much more challenging, the farmer’s market has been my go-to source for produce.  If your goal is to feed your family fruits and vegetables that are as nutrient-rich as possible, then freshness is a big deal.  The sooner it makes it from the farm to your table, the more nutritional value your produce has.  Additionally, the fresher it is, the better it tastes.  Because a lot of the produce in conventional grocery stores has spent days being shipped, buying locally is a much more nutritious and tasty option.  Bonus:  because of the lack of transportation costs, locally grown produce is often more cost effective as well.

Grass-fed/Pasture-Raised Meat

Transitioning to grass-fed and pasture-raised meat was one of our first steps in the journey toward a more health-conscious way of living.  As I began to dig into research on all of the chemicals and hormones being pumped into conventional store-bought meat, it became increasingly important to me to make sure that the meat we put on our table is serving our bodies and not hurting them.  Many farmer’s markets have vendors who sell grass-fed and pasture-raised meat; often, these vendors offer the option of buying in bulk, which makes it far more cost effective.  We’ve also learned to stretch the money that we spend on grass-fed/pasture-raised by buying bone-in products and using the bones to make our own stock and bone broth.

Homemade Body Products

Many farmer’s markets feature vendors who create soaps, lotions, body mobile casino scrubs, etc.  If you’re looking to decrease the chemicals you’re exposing yourself and your family to, but don’t have the time or desire to make your own homemade products, this is a great option.  I’ve also run across some body product vendors who teach classes on how to make you’re own, if you’re interested in going that route.

Relationships

This is, without question, my favorite part about shopping at the farmer’s market.  I believe there’s something to be said for creating a relationship with the people who are producing the foods and products I put in and on my body.  This relationship gives you several different opportunities that can help you maximize your experience:

  • Ask questions – Feel free to ask questions about how vendor products are grown, what products if any are used on them, etc.
  • Get fresh ideas – One of my new favorite things to do is select one new fruit or vegetable each week, and ask the vendor how they would recommend preparing it.  I’ve come up with a lot of great new recipes that way.
  • Request options that aren’t available or publicized – I’ve found that many of the vendors at farmer’s markets are absolutely willing to accommodate customer requests; ask them about specific produce or herbs, find out if they sell grassfed meat in bulk quantities for lowered prices.
  • Network – Last summer, I discovered a raw milk source nearby through one of my farmer’s market vendors.  Local farmers are often very knowledgeable about how to buy other products locally and sustainably.

Have you ever shopped at a local farmer”s market? What keeps you going back?

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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