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Farmer’s Markets: My favorite healthy living resource

Posted Aug 04 2010 4:32am

We are officially half way through the farm share/farmer’s market season and I’m surprised that I’ve taken this long to talk about it!  Yes, it’s true that the farmer’s market is

Fresh produce at the farmer's market by Heath Shackleford

 a great resource for anyone interested in healthy eating, but it’s also much more than that.  I first went to the farmer’s market long before the journey that brought us here .  It was simply a fun way to spend time together as a family on a Saturday morning. I can’t speak for all markets, but ours offers live music and entertainment, fresh coffee and breakfast muffins, hot lunch plates, beautiful art work and hands on exhibits like a milking station. 

Today, I continue to go to the farmer’s market because…

  • I can find the best variety and selection of produce.  Seriously, the tomato variety alone is amazing. 
  • The food has generally been harvested that morning or within the last 24 hours so the taste is far superior to anything I buy at the store.  (This isn’t true for everything, but taste test a quart of blueberries from the farmer’s market and a quart of blueberries from the supermarket and you’ll know why I mention it.)
  • The prices.  I always assumed the farmer’s market would be more expensive, but in many cases I’ve found better prices.  This week I saw cantaloupe for $1 at the Nashville farmer’s market.  If you’re shopping at a speciality organic grocer you will definitely find better prices at the farmer’s market on many items including grass-fed beef and pastured eggs.
  • Everything is locally grown and most of it is organic even if the farm didn’t have the time or budget to obtain the certification.  This is good for our family and good for the environment.  Ask the farmers and vendors about the techniques.  It gives me peace of mind about our food plus great tips for our home garden.
  • Resources.  I pick up a lot more than meat, cheese and produce at the farmer’s market.  I’ve gotten great advice from farmer’s and shoppers on choosing the best tasting produce, delicious recipes for vegetables I didn’t know what to do with and tips for cooking grass-fed beef without drying it out.  Not to mention all the gardening tips!  
  • When we shop at the local farmer’s market we’re supporting the local economy.

Before You Go

1.  Bring Cash – some vendors take checks or debit, but many do not

2.  Bring a Reusable Bag or Basket

3.  If your buying meat or dairy or plan to be out for awhile bring a small cooler with ice and leave it in your car

4.  If it’s a new market to you do a quick sweep first to check out all of your options

5.  I like to divide my grocery list (based on my weekly meal plan) into two parts.  Things I can get at the farmer’s market and things I can’t.  I take my list with me so I stay on budget and leave with everything I need.

If you’ve never been to the farmer’s market - or you’re interested in checking out a new - one visit one of the following sites.  I’ve listed national websites first with a searchable database to find the farmer’s market closest to you.  Next, I’ve listed some local resources for my Nashville friends.  You might be surprised at how many amazing farmer’s markets we have across Middle Tennessee.  I know I was!  I’m still hoping to hit them all by the end of the season. 

What do you love most about your local farmer’s market?

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