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.
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.
6 REASONS TO SHOP AT YOUR FARMER'S MARKET
1. You get to know your farmer and therefore your food.
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.
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.
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.
O.K. seriously though. Touching, kissing, NO masks. 2017 was a CRAZY year.
3. Supports your local economy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As an added bonus here's another reason to take in a Farmer's market. They're dog friendly.
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.
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.
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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