A fun way to get your grocery shopping done is to visit your local farmer’s market. These, often open-air, markets offer an assortment of local produce and goods for your family. Shopping a farmer’s market is the easiest way to eat locally.
Here are some things to think about before heading to your local farmer’s market:
- The grower of your food is right in front you. Use this as an opportunity to learn more about what you’re eating and educate your children on the origin of what’s on their dinner plate.
Who runs the farms? Who harvests the food that you are eating?
What is grown and/or raised there? What does it taste like? (Ask for sample) What animals, if any, do they raise? What kind of chicken laid those eggs? What is the best way to prepare this?
When are your favorite foods in season? When do they plant them? When do they harvest? When can you visit their farm (think family trip)?
Where is the farm located? Where is this food grown (on a vine, in the ground, on a tree)? Where does this plant best grown (in the shade, in the sun)?
Why did they choose farming and agriculture? Why do they grow those crops?
How do they irrigate (water) their crops? How do they control pests? How do they prepare this food?
- Know what’s in season in your area and plan your meals around it. Seasonal produce is often what’s in most abundance and thus, more cost efficient. Ask your local farmers about the crops they’ve just harvested and what’s to come soon so you can plan more effectively for your family. You can also check out Field to Plate (www.fieldtoplate.com) for what’s in season in your region as well as our What’s in Season articles.
- Leave room in your budget for spontaneity. Experiment and try something new! You never know what you may find at your market. Look for fresh herbs, local varieties of common fruits and vegetables, locally raised meats and eggs and more. You may also find that a great bulk buy at the market that will enable you to can or freeze.
- Keep it simple and whole! When you shop a farmer’s market you are getting the most unprocessed version of your food available without actually being on the farm. Expect to see some dirt on those root vegetables (carrots, beets, radishes and potatoes), as well as roots and leaves. Wash your farmer’s markets finds and keep their preparation simple to really taste the full flavor of your local goodies.
- Be prepared. Bring cash, dress comfortably, carry reusable bags and even pack a cooler.
Where to find a farmer’s market in your area:
Local Harvest – www.localharvest.org
USDA Search – search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/
Download our Farmer’s Market tip sheet for way to include your children in your farmer’s market trip and help them learn about the origins of the food they eat.