7 Reasons to Buy From Your City Farmer’s Market.

Wake up and smell the mixed bouquet of dahlias and pom pom mums!   It’s time to start thinking about breaking up with your grocery store.  

Benefits of shopping locally.

Nowadays your best choice for fresh food is the farmer’s market. Nothing good ever came from someone rolling a cart down an ice cream aisle.  Hold on. Let me rethink that sentence.  I’d actually like to take that sentence back because mostly very good things come from rolling a card down an ice cream aisle. And it’s the first place everyone goes when they break up with ANYONE or anything, so this might be a problem.  Lemme get back to you on that one.

The absolute, bonafide, 100% truth is you probably can’t ditch your grocery store entirely.  I mean seriously, where else would we buy those hamster sized variety packs of cereal to take to the cottage?

But you should think about shunning the produce aisle at the very least, especially during the summer and fall months.  Push that wobbly wheeled cart off to the side and hoof it to your local farmer’s market.  

Just because you don’t live in the country doesn’t mean you don’t have access to farmer fresh produce. Most huge cities host farmers markets along with small towns and everything in between.

The things you’ll find there will do more for your health and well being than going for a 5 km run.

This is not necessarily a scientifically proven fact, just something I, a person who hates running, likes to believe.  Here’s a story about my crossfit experience if you’re interested.  It was a shitshow.

I’m lucky that my farmer’s market is still up and running. This past year has seen a lot of them shut down because of Coronavirus fears. So how was ours allowed to open? Especially in the supremely Coronaconscious Canada?

A lot of work.

The market manager, downtown business association members and farmers had to get together and convince the provincial government that it was something that could be done safely. Protocols were put in place, rules adhered to and the market is up and running with everything from local meat to vegetables and flowers.

Now more than ever your local farmers need your business. Search them out even if you don’t have a local farmer’s market to support them in what is an incredibly difficult year.

Why should you shop at your farmer’s market as opposed to the grocery store?  I’ll give you 6 good reasons.


1.  You get to know your farmer and therefore your food.
Benefits of shopping locally.


This is Murray.  He’s one of my local farmers.  Murray is a heritage pig and chicken farmer who also grows produce.  He raises the pigs for meat and the chickens for eggs.  He carries all pork products imaginable from pork belly to sausages to chops and lard.  I’ve had them all.  His pigs are pasture raised, aren’t fed any corn and are butchered locally.  I know where the pigs live, I know how they live, and I know what he feeds them and how he treats them.  I didn’t even like pork before I met farmer Murray.  Now I do. Plus he has a pretty cool looking weirdo heirloom squash there.

Knowing the provenance of your market food will make you more aware of all your food choices.

Why you should shop at farmer's markets.


2. Farmer’s Markets promote socializing and community.

The whole socialization part is what made everyone nervous about opening the markets.  These photos are from a couple of years ago in the olden days when people could stand closer than 6′ together.
Why you should shop at farmer's markets.

Here’s me at the grocery store:  *I hate you, I hate everyone, I hate this aisle, I hate fluorescent lighting, I hate gum, I hate my shoes, I hate everything*

Here’s me at the Farmer’s Market:  *I love you, I love everyone, I love this stall, I love the sun, I love gum, I don’t care that I hate my shoes, I love everything!*

See the difference?  If you don’t, you might need to make a quick run to the local psychologist’s office.

Shopping at a Farmer’s Market is a way better experience.  Just look at how much fun these people are having. You’d swear they were on drugs, but they aren’t (as far as I know). They’re on a 100% natural, market high.  At an outdoor market you’re happy to run into people and chat (as opposed to ducking down the nearest aisle).  You’re getting vitamin D, eating apples (my market’s apple farmer give away apples), listening to music and generally enjoying the entire event.  

Because shopping at a Farmer’s Market is a communal event. It’s something everyone happily does together, as opposed to shopping in a grocery store which has become like the elevator of shopping experiences.  We go in, we ignore everyone around us, we get out.

Psychologically a Farmer’s Market has all the ingredients for boosting not only our health but our mood.
Why you should shop at farmer's markets.

O.K. seriously though. Touching, kissing, NO masks. 2017 was a CRAZY year.

3.  Supports your local economy.
Why you should shop at farmer's markets.

Support your local economy!  The phrase sounds good and all “I eat quinoa-ish” but what does it really mean?  What does shopping locally actually accomplish?  For one thing you monetarily support people you know and care about in your community.  Without you buying from them, they’d have to close up shop and clean houses for a living.  

Unless their actual business is cleaning houses, in which case they’d have to close up shop and not clean houses for a living.

Of every dollar you spend locally, over 60 cents of it stays within your community.

Your town, city or neighbourhood is a little ecosystem; you need to feed it, nurture it and take care of it to keep it alive.
Why you should shop at farmer's markets.


4.  Freshhhhhh.
Why you should shop at farmer's markets.

The produce or flowers you pick up at your local farmer’s market were likely picked only hours before you bought them.  Unlike a grocery store which carries tomatoes that were probably picked … who knows when.  On average produce travels 1,500 miles before it makes it to your grocery store.  That’s a lotta miles and a lot of handling.  That travelling California strawberry has had the potential to pick up a lot of hitchikers along the way.

The fresher the produce, the better it tastes.

Farmer’s markets are also your freshest option for flowers.  PLUS local farm flowers are just prettier than grocery store flowers.

Flowers are scientifically proven (this time for real) to elevate your mood and relieve anxiety.
Why you should shop at farmer's markets.

5.  Cheaper!  
Plan B Organics

If your goal is to buy organic, the Farmer’s Markets are going to be your cheaper option. There’s no middleman, no marketing guru to pay and no transportation costs.

By the way, talk to your farmer!  (This is where the whole know your farmer thing comes in handy)  Their farm may not be “certified organic”, which requires a lot of money and paperwork, but they may indeed be as organic as any certified farm. They just don’t have the paperwork.

The more people that buy organic the cheaper it will become but it will always be more expensive than non organic because so much more work is involved in growing organic food.

6.  Variety!
market apples

My favourite variety of apple can only be bought at a Farmer’s Market.  Why?  Because they don’t travel well and grocery stores don’t want to carry foods that don’t travel well even if they tastes more delicious than anything else in the world.  

The Golden Gala apple can only be found at the market.  Search it out.  It’s like a Royal Gala but golden.  Sadly this picture of my market apples isn’t showcasing the Golden Gala because they were sold out because they are SO good.

The Farmer’s Market is the perfect place to get varieties of vegetables or fruits that you cannot, under any circumstances get in any grocery store.  Golden Gala apples, Grey Ghost squash, Linzer Delikatess and Pink Fir Apple potatoes.

Other than a few heirloom tomatoes, you won’t find a supply of heirlooms in the grocery store.  Why does that matter?

Heirloom vegetables offer more taste, more textures and more colours. And that makes for more of a meal.

heirloom potato varieties

7. HOW many people touched that?

Less people have touched your food at the Farmer’s market.  In fact, it’s entirely possible that the only person to have touched it was the farmer.

Let’s just say more people have touched your food at the grocery store.  A lot more. 

Market 2


As an added bonus here’s another reason to take in a Farmer’s market.  They’re dog friendly.

cute dog

Think maybe a roadside stand is a good option for your produce?  Usually they are. I have a friend who has a great roadside stand where he sells beautiful organic lettuces.  

But sometimes those roadside stands are just posing as farmers.  They buy their produce wholesale, put on a pair of muddy boots and set up shop on a country road.   Seriously.  So vet them before you buy from them. Just ask a few questions about where the food came from and if they grew it. Maybe a couple of follow up questions about variety or where their farm is.

My town’s farmer’s market has a vetting process where everyone who is part of the market must allow the manager access to their farm to look around and approve it. 

This ensures that the farmers are actual farmers.

market manager stephanie

Not all farmer’s markets work the same way so if you’re unsure about the produce, do like I told you to do with the roadside stand. Ask questions. Probe. Be a pest. If they’re an actual farmer they’ll be more than happy to talk to you for weeks on end about the perils of the Colorado Potato Beetle.

Now back to that ice cream aisle problem.  It just occurred to me that you probably can skip it as well.  Farmer’s markets have ice cream too.

Rudy's paletas

In this case it’s an all natural, vegan Pumpkin Maple Paleta from Rudy’s.

3 of which are sitting in my freezer right now, just waiting for me to break up with someone or something.


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7 Reasons to Buy From Your City Farmer\'s Market.


  1. Jane says:

    Pre-pandemic, I shopped every Sat at the farmer’s market. Hardly ever looked at produce in a grocery store, even in winter. And for years, my local CSA even got me to try new things. Those were good days! My CSA up and decided to retire last fall, and the farmer’s market was closed. I had to start buying eggs and produce from stores. Horror! Now the market has reopened, but isn’t quite the same. At most only half of the vendors are there, masks and social distancing required, prices are up, quality and variety are down. Grocery stores now sell produce from local farmers as well. One thing, though, is still true at the market: freshness! Nothing beats how much fresher produce is at the market.

  2. Julie Anne says:

    Best shopping spot for the best food. My local Farmer’s Market had to implement some new rules to adapt to our new normal. One way lines, requests of one person per family and not stopping to visit. Once you learn the pattern, it’s not too hard and absolutely worth it.

  3. Wendy Heath says:

    Karen! I love you and all you do.
    I also love my farmer’s markets. I’m in Victoria BC and I have 2 Saturday farmer’s markets within a short bicycle distance from where I live. I’m pushing 70 and I’m a life-long bicycle rider so when my creaky old arthritis knee made hills too hard, I got a (fabulous!) ebike last October and now I can say “what hills? no problem!”. At the markets everyone lines up, apart, so no more cruising in the crowd to compare all the stalls offerings but at least they are open. I do car cruise up Saanich to some of the bigger farms and buy direct every week or so.
    One thing, Karen. Here I have not seen one single plastic bag at a market. Markets here don’t have bags to give out. The odd one at a farm but mostly not. People bring their own bags or take produce home in boxes which are reused over and over. You have one picture in this post with a woman holding 3 plastic bags with the market logo on them no less, each of them having nearly nothing in them. Why? Why? I could put all that stuff in one of my medium cloth bags.
    With all the wonderful advice you give in this post, please please put in something that acknowledges the wisdom of using your own reusable bags. This precious and only planet we have is literally being smothered with the toxins released as plastic (extremely slowly) decomposes with the biggest risk being micro plastics that occur when plastic breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces to be ingested by animals that mistakenly view it as food. So small that we are breathing micro plastics now with every breath.
    Now I’m going to go out and pick more Maxibel filet green beans to give to a couple of friends. This year, it’s like having zucchini there are so many! xoxo

  4. J Witherell says:

    Ahhh, the old days of last year…
    One of our largest Farmer’s Markets is a close walk from my home but it is kind a shit show regarding social distancing etc, so I haven’t gone to it this summer. There is a wonderful Farm Stand out in the country at the end of the property of an actual farm that I adore though! Pumpkins, veggies, berries, and they are wonderful people to do business with. I also buy my beef from a local farmer who encourages you to check out his farm – best beef I have ever tasted! (just put in an early fall order) There is a new micro greens vender here this summer and of course lots of “side of the road” guys too, who actually are local. Now if I could just find a local pig and chicken farmer I’d be good to go!

    • Loquin says:

      Lol reading this just as we’re going home from the farmer’s market! However, I embarrassed myself and another lady big time by muttering evilly when she cut in front of me for eggplants – and she heard me!!! I mean, I wasn’t technically wrong, but I could have been a lot nicer about it. I was mortified! Lol

  5. Michelle says:

    I live in a small town in New England that rarely has “organic” offerings as the small growers say it is just not worth the bureaucracy to get certified. So they offer locally grown produce but the prices are much higher than what you would pay at the grocery store. I asked a few growers and they said it wouldn’t cover their costs if prices were lower. When I grew up, farmer’s markets were cheaper because there was no middleman. I’m not sure that holds today.

  6. Christine says:

    I was at the Burlington Market this morning.There are an alarming rate of non growers selling.One of my favorite growers taught me to look at the truck license plates.Rhe real deal has a farm plate.

    • margaret says:

      Not to mention how much of the stuff at most ‘markets’ nowadays has nothing to do with food…

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Hi Christine, I’m old enough to remember going with my mum to the outdoor market behind Eatons in downtown Hamilton. She taught me way back then to check for “farm” license plates (and I still do!) to avoid buying from “hucksters”. Thanks for my warm fuzzy flashback and thanks Mum!

  7. Vikki says:

    I read this with sadness and longing. Ahhh.. the good ol’ days. Will they ever come again?

  8. PMK says:

    Another reason for me to love my local farmers’ market. I got a phone call from one of my favourite vendors on Monday pointing out that I had not placed an order for a turkey. Talk about panic. I have company coming! She said not to worry, she had already grown one for me. It will be somewhere around 15 lbs and I can pick it up on Saturday (the last market day here till spring) and it will be fresh, never frozen since they were still running around the yard when she called me. Can’t get this kind of thoughtfulness in a chain store. I’m definitely thankful for farmers’ markets.

  9. Liz says:

    As a parent of the child who’s mowing down on the ice cream, I can vouch that it was delicious (she had to share – part of the deal!). It’s nice knowing that our kiddo is developing some sense of what’s in season when. Of course, ice cream is always in season.

  10. Lobo says:

    Have you seen this past Fridays Marketplace on CBC?


    • Karen says:

      I didn’t watch it, but I’ve read the article about it. My guess is that’s more of a problem at larger “farmers'” markets. Like I mentioned, mine, which is smaller vets and visits the farms of all of the vendors. But the Marketplace thing is something I’ve noticed at pop up road stalls. ~ karen!

      • Lobo says:

        It’s a real shame. Giving hard working farmers a bad name. I do hope it’s isolated and will be eliminated now that it’s brought to light.

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