For some strange reason, I used to be intimidated by farmers’ markets.
I’d ask myself: How do I shop there? What should I purchase and how much? Is it a better deal to shop there than at grocery or natural foods stores? All the questions… (Yep, I’m an overthinker!)
When I starting a Paleo diet in 2012, I made a pact with myself to try one new vegetable each week. I would go to the store, grab a random thing I wasn’t sure what to do with (or what it even was if I’m being honest!), and I’d go home and channel the power of Google to figure out how to cook it.
I grew up on an island in Alaska where produce wasn’t plentiful so I was really starting from scratch. Combine that with the fact that, up to that point, I had a narrow range of preferences and cooking skills so you can imagine what a culinary adventure this was!
My efforts didn’t always turn out (steamed turnips? nope) but over time, my family and I have developed a love for veggies such as beets, Brussel sprouts, and leeks that we never would’ve imagined.
ENTER THE FARMERS’ MARKET
As you’ve no doubt discovered, organic produce can be expensive. I’d heard that shopping from local farmers was not only a better deal (you avoid the middle man) but you also get much fresher produce and reduce your carbon footprint (produce isn’t being trucked or flown hundreds or thousands of miles).
Despite my trepidation, I decided to give it a go. There are several in the area (I live in Wichita, Kansas – the heart of America’s farmland).
My experience was amazing. Not only was there a huge variety to choose from, I got to visit with farmers, learn about their practices, and gain a sense of community. How fun is it to know where your food actually comes from?!
And the prices. Whoa. On average, I spend half of what I would at either a standard grocery store or natural foods store.
TIPS I WISH I’D KNOWN
- Bring your own reusable shopping bags. You’ll be wandering around and plastic shopping bags are flimsy and hard to manage.
- Check out several stands to see what’s on offer before you purchase. Produce may be better quality or less costly from another stand so it pays to shop around.
- Focus on ingredients. Produce, grass fed beef, pastured pork and chicken, eggs – all of these can be found at farmer’s markets at lower prices. You will undo these savings if you get too carried away at the juice stand, coffee bar, or pre-made food vendors.
- Take a moment to visit with the vendor/farmer if you and they have time. It really is amazing to make the connection with where your food comes from and understand the process a little bit better.
- Get there early for the best selection or get there near the end for great deals (farmers typically don’t want to haul their produce home).
- Locate a farmer’s market near you by typing your zip code and the distance you’re willing to travel in the search boxes of the USDA Local Food Directory.
FIRE UP THE GRILL!
As it’s summertime, I love to grill whenever and whatever I can. I enjoy the flavor and I don’t have to heat up the house.
On today’s grilling menu:
- grass fed burger patties with grilled onion slices
- grilled zucchini and yellow squash with balsamic vinegar
- smashed new potatoes with olive oil and Thai basil
I’m curious – what has been your experience with farmers’ markets? Let me know by leaving a comment, reaching out to me on the socials, or shooting me an email: