Support your local farmers’ market!
I love my local farmers’ market. I go even if I don’t need anything in particular. It’s much a social event as it is a shopping trip. If you aren’t going on a weekly basis, you’re really missing out.
10 reasons you need to go this weekend:
Besides your own garden, your local farmers’ market is the best place to get fresh, pesticide-free greens. In my book, local often trumps organic. A tiny local farm may not be able to afford going through the organic certification process, but you can talk to them in person about their methods—and the food hasn’t traveled thousands of miles to get to you.
2. Local Artists.
The mall? If you need to buy a gift, skip the mall and hit the market. Depending on the size of your market, you may not have a huge selection of handicrafts every week. My favorite non-food items to buy at the market are soap (made by my friend’s midwife) and small felted wool toys and crafts (great to put aside for stocking stuffers).
3. New Recipes
What are you going to do with all that garlic? Yeah, I had no idea either. I love garlic, but…there are limits. Hang around one of the veggie stands for a few minutes and you’ll get some great dinner ideas from the vendors and other visitors. The great tip I got last weekend? Take the garlic shoots and scapes and dice them up and put them in homemade salsa. They are milder than the garlic bulb, but add lots of great flavor.
4. Seasonal, seasonal, seasonal.
Everyone knows it’s great to eat what’s in season. If you go to a traditional grocery store—or even Whole Foods—they might highlight what’s in season in your area, but chances are, it’s still what’s most popular rather than what’s actually in season. Bananas are never, ever in season in Connecticut.
5. Community Building.
For every $100 spent locally, $68 of it returns to the local community through tax, payroll and other expenditures. If you spend it at a national chain, $43 stays in the community. If you spend it online, none of it does. I love the 3/50 project, and make a point of supporting local businesses whenever possible. The farmers market is a great local “one stop shopping” opportunity.
6. All of the Four-legged Market Goers.
I was sad to see that Boulder has banned doggy friends from their market. A big part of the fun at Coventry Regional Farmers’ Market is all of the dog friends that visit, as well as some of the goats, chicken, pigs, alpacas, rabbits… We often have goats and sheep at ours, usually visiting alongside the vendors selling wool and goat milk products. Whether you like to buy local, pastured meats, or prefer to go veg, this can be a great way to educate your children about where their food comes from.
7. It’s Slow.
Even if it’s crowded, the farmers’ market is not as outcome driven as other types of shopping. We slow down. Have some tea and a muffin from a local bakery in the grass. Listen to some music. Throw a Frisbee. Catch up with friends. It’s a great way to hit pause and relax on the weekend. We forget to do that. We want to hurry and swipe our debit cards and speed around and get important things done. Slow is important too.
8. You can make it into a tradition.
We aren’t really big on traditions anymore in our society. It’s all about what’s new most of the time. The Sunday trip to the market is one of my favorite traditions we’ve given our kids. They plan to spend their allowance there. They’re bummed on weeks something else is going on and we don’t go. It’s more than an errand, it’s something special. I hope it’s a tradition they continue into adulthood.