If you are reading this blog, you’re probably thinking “I bet this girl likes kale.” And you’d be right, my astute friend (although would it kill you to have a little more enthusiasm?). Well listen, I gotta get that kale from somewhere, and sometimes Shaw’s just ain’t cuttin’ it. That’s when I need to get my farmers market on.
I love the farmers market. I will happily spend an afternoon prancing among the vegetables, taking in the sights and sounds, and chatting up the vendors. It’s a veritable circus for the senses, minus the depressed elephants and $15 bags of popcorn. I’m lucky enough to work a couple of blocks from the Copley Square market in Boston, which is open every Tuesday and Friday until Thanksgiving. It’s great to leave the office and be surrounded by healthy, fresh food.
So allow me to kick some new flava in ya ear. Here are five awesome things about the farmers market:
It’s all just so freakin’ pretty. These are all photos I took today in Copley Square.
2. Knowing who grew your food and where
This may come as a shock, so brace yourselves – Larry the stock guy in aisle 3 did not grow that apple for you. I know I know, Larry is great, but the supermarket detaches us from the reality of where our food comes from. Do you know how far that apple had to travel to get to you? Do you know how long that apple has been sitting around? (Hint: Probably 6-12 months. Most supermarkets like their apples waxed, cold, and suffocating.) Can Larry tell you how the growing season was, or why the apples cost less this year? No he can’t, poor useless lug. You have respect for your food when you have respect for the grower, which can lead to happier, more mindful eating.
Seriously though, I wish Larry the best of luck.
3. Good for your bod, good for your mind
Even with the conflicting nutritional advice we are bombarded with every day, I have yet to hear anyone say, “Eat less fresh vegetables.” You don’t need me to tell you that fresh produce is good for you. In fact, the longer it takes for produce to go from harvest to mouth, the more nutrients are lost. The better you eat, the better you look and feel. Farmers markets make it easy.
4. Supporting farmers at a fair price
I’m not going to touch on the myriad issues that go into the high cost of food – that’s a blog post for another day. But a good way to save money is to eat in-season from the farmers market. Sure, a lot of the more exotic stuff is going to be expensive, but buying an apple in autumn is often less expensive than buying a fancy McIntosh from Whole Foods. And even if something does cost a little more, I’m ok with it – you’re handing your money over to the person who picked your dinner, after all.
5. Gosh darn it, it just tastes better
Well of course it tastes better, it’s fresh! Even the CDC could tell you that. A lot of the produce sold to us in supermarkets is anything but fresh. Take the humble tomato, for instance. Bite into a lot of conventionally-grown tomatoes and you’ll notice that something is missing – namely, flavor. That’s because most tomatoes are “picked hard and green and artificially gassed until their skins acquire a marketable hue” (from Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland and Politics of the Plate). Appetizing! You’re unlikely to find these Frankentomatoes at the farmers market.
There are plenty of resources online if you’re looking for a market near you or are just curious as to what’s in season where you live. Do you live or work near a farmers market? What do you love about them?