A farmers market is a great way to bring a bit of the country into the city and support local farmers. Most urban areas have at least one farmers market during summer weekends, and many have multiple locations or even weekday option if you work weekends. In case you still need convincing, below are the top 5 reasons to visit your local farmers market.
1. Locally sourced produce. While some grocery stores do stock up their produce locally, many of them import foods from across the country or from another country altogether. Granted, there are some ingredients that simply can’t be grown locally if they require a tropical environment and you live in Kansas City, for example, but arguably the best produce is sourced locally and has the least amount of time and handling from farm to table
2. Try new ingredients. If you’re so inclined, you can step out of your culinary comfort zone and try some local ingredients you’re not as familiar with. If you’re lucky enough farmers will have unique offerings that are harder to find at the grocery store, like purple cauliflower and watermelon beets, or lesser known fruits like persimmons and pawpaws. If a new fruit or vegetable catches your eye but you’re not sure what it is, ask the farmer how to prepare it and what some of their favorite recipes are.
3. Get to know local farmers. As you’re strolling the aisles and inspecting the wares make sure to chat with the farmers. Sellers may hold back certain items if there’s not a big offering, for example, and keep it for their regulars. Even if they don’t have any specials they know their products better than anyone and may be able to offer advice as to how to better prepare and enjoy their produce.
4. Save money and eat seasonally. It’s no secret that the best ingredients are the ones in seasons. With the advancements of agriculture you can typically get any popular fruit or vegetable at any part of the year, but there’s a big difference between the apples you see on the store shelves in the middle of winter versus the big, juicy Honeycrisp you see at a farmers market at the beginning of Autumn. Not only will you get the best product at a farmers market, most of the time you’ll end up spending less for comparable produce at a grocery store. Especially if you buy in bulk and have a relationship with the local farmer you’re guaranteed to get the most bang for your buck by getting your ingredients straight from the source.
5. Learn more about your area. Anyone who has watched even 5 minutes of a cooking show can tell you that food is deeply rooted in culture. Arguably the best way to learn more about an area is to find out what the locals eat and how they cook the native produce. Coastal areas have a wide variety of seafood available, while here in the landlocked Midwest heartier dishes with meats and starches to get through the colder winters are common. It’s also interesting to find out who the first immigrants to settle in the area were, and how their culture’s food blended with the ingredients available to produce today’s cuisine.