Learning how to make the most of your farmer’s market visit is simply sensible. Today I’m going to share a few very simple tips and tricks with you that will help you do just that.
A visit to your local farmer’s market should never feel like a chore. It should be a weekly event that you look forward to. It should be an experience.
These markets are simply the best place to purchase high quality food products, second best only to a garden or small livestock herd in your own backyard.
The nutritional value of the food you purchase there is exponentially higher than the food that’s available at the grocery store. It is locally produced, which reduces the carbon footprint that we humans make on this earth. And dollars spent there support the farmer’s and their families. Thereby, contributing to the economy of the very community you live in.
Get to Know Your Farmer
The very first tip I want to share with you is probably the most important way you can make the most of your farmstand purchases. And, as a bonus, it will help enrich your farmstand experience.
That tip is to get to know your local farmers. Find out what they are producing on their farms, and learn what practices they are using to produce those products.
Often, talking to a farmer can shed light on things about the food you are consuming that you may not otherwise ever be aware of.
Like, for instance … did you know that because of the exorbitant fees involved in getting approved to label farm produced products as organic, many farmers who produce organic products simply opt out of having their wares organically labeled?
And, were you aware that truly grassfed beef is not raised on megafarms? All of this amazing beef comes from small, local farms.
However, you will find that megafarms label their products as 100% grass fed because it increases sales. They are happy to take advantage of the unfortunate fact that labeling requirements for grass fed beef leave a lot of room for deception.
In order to carry the grass fed label, cattle are only required to actually be grass feed for two weeks of their lives.
So, by choosing a grass fed beef farmer who is local to you, and practices 100% grass feeding, you are both ensuring that the quality of food that hits your table is high end and that your local economy is being supported with your hard earned dollars.
And this is just a small sampling of the information you can glean by getting to know your food providers.
Small Farmers Like to Share What They Do
Farmers are generally eager to share their production practices with anyone who inquires. They are very often inclined toward getting to know people. It allows them to network on their own behalf, and also to both build and support the community they live and work in.
And, I’m just gonna be a little blunt here … if your farmer doesn’t like you asking questions, then find another farmer.
How To Shop On Your Farmer’s Market Visit
Everybody has those days when the best they can manage to fit in their busy schedule is to dash through the farmer’s market and grab a few things to get them through the week on the fly.
However, slowing down and thoughtfully making purchases will definitely serve you better in the long run. So, make it a point to try to schedule ample time into your day to peruse the market before you shop.
Most markets are small enough that you can walk around them once, just to see what’s available that week, in as little as 15 minutes. If you can spare the 15 minutes … do it.
You can spot the best deals that way. And you can get a pretty good idea of what you need to get through the week, eliminating impulse purchases later. Impulse purchases create unnecessary spending and often unnecessary waste.
Making Bulk Purchases At The Farmer’s Market
Another thing to consider when learning to make the most of your farmer’s market visit, is saving yourself some cash by purchasing products in bulk.
These purchases can help you put a little food in your pantry for the winter months when farm fresh food is not available to you.
If you decide to go this route, get to the market as early as you can. This will help you score the best deals on these items as they often go quickly.
You can also inquire with farmers as to whether or not they would be willing to work out bulk purchase deals with you outside of the market. If they have large quantities to sell, and they are able to simply offload them in one transaction, that may be a good deal for them.
In the event that you can only make it to the market at the end of the day, you should definitely still go. Sometimes there are deals to be found at this time of day as well.
Some farmers don’t want to take surplus market product home with them. They may not have the time to properly process their leftover products because of how busy their schedules can be.
So, if you’re running late on market day, but you can still slide in for the last little bit of shopping time, take a chance and see what you find.
It’s also important when making bulk purchases to be sure you have a plan for how you are going to preserve them once you get them home. Otherwise, you may find yourself with nothing more than bulk spoilage.
Your farmer should be able to steer you in the right direction on how to preserve your purchases.
Get the Most Out of Farmstand Vegetables
When you bring your farmer’s market produce home, don’t just toss them in the refrigerator and hope they get eaten throughout the week. This line of thinking usually never works out.
It takes very little effort to properly put away your tasty farmstand treasures. It will save you tons of time later in the week. And it will likely save you some cash by reducing waste.
Doing a little research and learning a bit about the conditions that different fruits and vegetables need for storage will give you a skill that will serve you well for a lifetime, and it takes very little effort.
For example … Did you know that potatoes and onions like to be stored in a cool, dark place, as opposed to being put in the refrigerator? Tomatoes get grainy and lose their taste when they’re refrigerated? And leafy greens should be removed from carrots and beets, and stored seperately, before storing them?
Follow proper storage procedures and your produce will taste better and last longer.
Additionally, it is always better to store produce whole rather than slicing or chopping them up. The more exposure that their surface gets to air the quicker they will spoil.
BUT, if time is an issue for you during the week, and having fresh sliced veggies in the fridge means you will eat them rather than allowing them to spoil, then by all means, prep what you can to be used later that week.
Making Your Farmer’s Market Visit An Experience
As I mentioned above … allowing yourself time to peruse the farmer’s market once before you shop can save you money by reducing unwanted purchases and ensuring you get the best buys.
That, however, is not it’s only purpose. This practice can also contribute to the farmer’s market visit experience.
It allows you time to talk to farmers, which will deepen your connection to your food and your community.
AND, if done mindfully, this practice will stimulate your senses in the most pleasurable way.
The beauty of Mama Earth’s colorful bounty on display is very visually pleasing. There is a plethora of earthy, fruity, and savory scents to enjoy. And, at many markets, there are high quality, hand prepared foods to delight your tastebuds as well.
Make your farmer’s market visit an experience, rather than a chore. You’ll be glad you did.
And don’t stop there. As often as you are able, all throughout the week, celebrate the farm fresh lifestyle. Regardless of whether you are eating alone or with friends and family, food, particularly whole, fresh food should always be a sensual experience.
Prepare it with love and serve it with style. Take a moment to make the table beautiful, fold the napkins and light the candles.
Enjoy the sight of fresh, nourishing food being prepared and served by loving hands. It’s particularly rewarding when those hands are yours *hint, hint*.
Enjoy the scents that meet your nostrils all throughout the preparation process. And then sit down, relax, and savor every bite as if it were provided specifically for you by the grace of nature’s bounty. Because it was 😉
Adjusting To Eating Fresh Food At Every Meal
If you are new to grocery shopping at local farmer’s markets, you may find yourself overwhelmed at the idea of eating fresh food at every meal. It probably sounds like a lofty goal.
After all, someone has to have the time to prepare all of that food. And cooking from scratch does take some time.
BUT, don’t lose hope. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is the skill of maintaining a diet that primarily consists of food from farm markets. Over time you will develop ways to make it simpler. It doesn’t have to happen all at once.
Just tackle one thing at a time, and you’ll find that it has a snowball effect.
Eating a garden fresh vegetable every night with dinner, becomes eating a garden fresh vegetable with every meal. And snacking on fresh fruit from your farmer’s market visit two or three evenings a week, instead of sweets or chips, eventually eliminates these unhealthy treats altogether.
I have not reached my goal of eating 95% clean in more than a decade of working toward it. And that’s really okay. I’ll bet I get there one day. It would be a terrible shame to choose struggling my way through the process over enjoying it as it unfolds.
Besides, the single most important element to maintaining a primarily farm fresh diet is to nurture the relationship you have with your food.
If you focus on that one task, everything else will begin to fall into place. It’s a truly magical process, that doesn’t lend itself very easily to explanation.
As the way you think changes, so will the way you purchase, prepare, and consume food.
Time is on Your Side
Over time, you will find that your old way of eating is being replaced bit by bit with a completely new, highly nourishing, and profoundly fulfilling way of eating.
You will naturally gravitate toward food that is produced in a way that meets your bodies nutritional needs. The inferior options available to you at the grocery store will begin to lose their appeal. And one day you’ll find that you no longer crave the things that were once your favorite ‘treats’.
Instead, you will have new favorite treats. And they will be exponentially healthier for you.
You will begin to find that by giving your body fuel that provides nutrition, instead of just false energy, you feel satiated.
You will not eat nearly as much as you did when consuming commercially processed foods. This will make it possible for you to spend more on quality food when you shop. It really is more expensive to eat convenience food in the long run.
If you’re looking for recipe inspiration for your farmer’s market produce, you can check out these other posts on the blog …
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