Is it an effort to change your habits? Definitely. Is it usually worth it? Yes, if you’re instilling a good habit. What do I consider a good habit that I have adopted? To shop at a farmers market, of course! What made me start going was simply having the desire to be more aware of where my food comes from. I’m not a picky eater, but I don’t eat certain meats and I like to change up my meals. The older I get, the more creative in the kitchen I feel. If I’m stomping through Whole Foods, I’m not really stopping to talk to the grocery stocker about beets and how I could cook them. The farmers love sharing their knowledge, though, and I eat that up, pun intended. It’s made me branch out tremendously in terms of variety of foods I eat. It was a little awkward when I first started going, some trial and error, deciding which market I liked best. Just the usual discomfort of changing up my routine and habits. Once I got my groove, I have been a regular ever since. They know me, they know what I like. It’s like Cheers, but without the booze. Actually, that’s not entirely true. My favorite bubbly maker is a vendor. Grab a friend as I mentioned in another article
. You can show said friend the many reasons to shop at a farmers market.
All from the market: fresh pasta, tomatoes, and jumbo lump crab meat
1. You’re Supporting Your Community
Do I need to state this? No, but I will. We all need to be reminded of who makes the world go round. It’s the small guys. The people who are literally picking the potatoes moments before putting them on a truck and selling them in 3 hours. Because small business has been such an integral part of my life and in my culture, I try to find ways to support them. Talking to the farmers is also a great way to understand what they do and how they do it. They take pride in their organic ways, and I’m not kidding - the food tastes so much better. Which leads me to my next point.
Delicious salad with farmers market tomatoes, cheese, cucumbers
2. You Never Make a Bad Meal
When I tell you that every single person who eats a meal that I cook with ingredients from when I shop at a farmers market comments on how amazing it is, I am not exaggerating. You cannot cook a bad meal with the freshest of fresh produce. I often find myself wondering why I don’t open up my own restaurant at my house. Oh wait, because I would despise that. But I do love entertaining, and cooking for people is a sign of my love for them. Having people over to eat lets me flex my muscle of kitchen creativity, and I end up trying new things that I purchased from the farmers market. Somehow I even have made beets (mentioned earlier because I used to HATE them) taste good. We are still getting to know and respect one another, to be honest, but I am more open to who they are as a vegetable.
3. The Vendors Become Your Friends
I used to show up at the farmers market like a total fish out of water. I was awkward, unsure, clumsy. You get the idea. Once I started to attend more, they would recognize me. It became a more pleasant and special experience for me, and now I want to give them all my money and eat all of their delicious food. Even the winery owner I mentioned earlier has invited me to her farm to hang out with them, her dogs, and her goats. How cool is that? I haven’t been but I plan to go. The experience when I shop at a farmers market becomes like a little family visit. Can you have too many friends? Yes, but only if they are the wrong ones. These people are not. And sometimes they even give you little lagniappes because they like you so much. That is the kind of friend I want.
Chicken noodle soup with farmers market ingredients
A beauty of hitting the market each week is that the pre-made foods can be dinner that night. Some of my favorites at our local market are the shrimp and onion dumplings from Micro Pharms
, vegetable tamales from Ollie’s Tamales
, and vegetable paella from Paella Nola
. When I see them out there, I come a-running. I typically buy one or two pre-made items when I go, but you could really go crazy and load up for the week. I think the makers will love you for it. And…dinner is a no-brainer. Voila! Here is a link
to the chili oil that we use almost daily in our house. All of the oils are spectacular, but this is our favorite.
Radishes from a farmers market in Italy
5. Creativity and Fun is to Be Had
I mentioned getting creative in the kitchen is inspired by my visits when I shop at a farmers market. Walking by vendors who have gorgeous displays, freshly picked from their gardens and farms, is my weakness. Years ago I remember someone telling me that she would go to a market, see what was fresh, and see what type of meal she could come up with. I thought it was utterly preposterous. How could anyone “just know” how to cook up something with an ingredient they had never used? Well, my friends, I am that person now. I delight in picking up one different thing most times I shop at the farmers market. Sometimes I fail, but has anyone ever succeeded without failing first? I think that’s a hard no. Get creative - it’s fun.
6. It’s a Wonderful Weekly Ritual
Each week, I block out my schedule to shop at a farmers market. I have one of them on my calendar as a recurring event, and I rarely miss it. When I want to change it up, I get my husband to come with me on Sunday mornings during the summer before the excruciating sun makes itself known. I like to pack my reusable bags
and take them every week so that I’m not wasting plastic bags. And I even take vegetable bags
with me to put those individual, tiny items like Brussels sprouts or cherry tomatoes. Just writing this makes me want to get in my car and go. I wonder what treats they will have for me this week?
Not only can you get vegetables and meats, you can get health items as well. Some of the vendors sell herbs that you could make tinctures out of, some sell digestive products. My favorite that I have found is bee pollen
. The health benefits
I have had since taking my bee pollen each day in my breakfast smoothie are so great. My skin looks so great (for 40-something year old skin), I am rarely ill, it helps with local allergies. One other health benefit is the connectivity. We all benefit from connecting with people, and those micro interactions you have with people mean so much to our health. To shop at the farmers market means to be overall healthy, which is why I choose to go, rain or shine, heat or cold. I crave my time there, and I enjoy the whole experience.
I hope I have inspired you to make the effort to go shop at a farmers market around you. There are so many great elements about it, as I’ve outlined in this blog. If you already go, good on you. We are in this boat together and probably exponentially ahead of the health curve. If you haven’t started, it’s not too late. Get your awkwardness out of the way so you can start soaking up all the fun there. Don’t you want more fun in your life? I thought so. See you at the market.
The link to my favorite farmers market is here. They have three per week in various neighborhoods in New Orleans. I bet you can commit to one every one to two weeks. Ready to try? I thought so. Happy farmers marketing.
Some of the links go to my affiliate account. If you purchase from one, you're helping feed my stray cat colony. Meow!