Navigating the Farmer’s Market
By Cindy Santa Ana, CHC
Most grocery store food is full of chemicals like BHT, BHA,TBHQ, HFCS, MSG, neurotoxins, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and Genetically Modified Organisms. So how do we eat well and nourish our bodies with healthy food? Well, thankfully, it’s now Farmer’s Market season – my favorite time of year! Each weekend, I make my trek down to the Market to see heaping piles of fresh produce, coolers full of grass-fed meats and fresh flowers and herbs ready to be planted in my garden. So, why should you be shopping the Farmer’s Market?
3 Reasons to Shop Your Local Farm Market:
- Purchasing from your local farmer keeps money and resources in your community and improves your local economy.
- Buying freshly picked produce ensures that what you are getting has the highest nutritional content.
- You’ll be eating seasonal foods specific to your climate and region, which will ensure your body is getting the variety of nutrients it needs during each season of the year.
- You’re helping to reduce the packaging, chemicals and petroleum used in the food shipping industry.
Navigating the Farmer’s Market
This can be a daunting task if you’re not sure what to get or don’t know how to cook a beet or kohlrabi! Here are some tips to get you sailing through the market and supporting your local farmer.
Questions to Ask at The Market:
Want to know if that bunch of kale was sprayed with pesticides? Strike up a conversation with the farmer and find out. Asking if they use chemicals will not always give you the info you need…
• “Do you grow this yourself?” Some may be resellers and not know all the answers if they don’t grow the food themselves.
• “Do you use Roundup?” Or “How do you manage pests?” Some organic farmers may use pesticides, but they must come from a natural source.
• Ask them how they improve the soil or how they control weeds. If they mention they use only products listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), you’ve got a winner. Curt Shade of Shade’s Farm, whose produce is grown naturally using organic methods, suggests getting to know your farmer, but also respect the short time they are at the market each week.
Money-Saving and Food Prep Tips:
• Arrive early if you want the best pick of produce and a shot at some specialty items. Some farmers only have limited quantities of certain items and you could miss out. Or, if you don’t have anything specific you are looking for, come later in the day and hope for a discount. Keep in mind that some farmers won’t discount at all, but some do.
• Want to save some money on your produce? Consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture or CSA. CSA’s offer a weekly produce box of the fruits and vegetables that are in season. Generally, you will spend roughly $25 per week and receive the freshest produce possible. Don’t like radishes? Tell your farmer and maybe they will work with your to supply you with more of another item or you can share with a neighbor.
• Not sure how to prepare kohlrabi or what to do with all the greens you just scored for $2? YouTube is full of videos on how to cut, prepare and cook with hundreds of different foods. You could also ask your farmer, they are a wealth of knowledge about the foods they grow.
• When certain items are in season, you’ll find they are at the best price and that’s when you should buy in bulk. Consider asking for a discount if you want a whole crate of tomatoes. Then, freeze or can the extras. You can freeze lots of fresh produce, including greens and herbs. I love buying tons of berries and making jams, jelly and simply just freezing extras for smoothies and snacking.
Find a Farm Market Near You:
Supporting your local farmer is very important as it encourages them to grow what you want. Visit www.LocalHarvest.org to find a Farmer’s Market near you or www.PickYourOwn.org to find a u-pick farm in your area. Don’t forget your reusable bags!