This Saturday, the little one and I decided to venture out to the local farmer’s market. This was our first time going together, and I know she was excited to see all the people and shop for her favorite thing in the world: food.
It was an absolutely beautiful day out – I mean, the sun was beaming, the sky was gorgeous, and the entire area smelled like greens and sausages. I wasn’t partaking of the hog, but it did smell nice.
The very last time I went to a farmer’s market would’ve been two years ago, at a time when I didn’t quite understand the awesomeness before me. I didn’t really know the value of knowing the person who grew and cared for the food I was cooking for my daughter. Shoot, as many plants as I’ve killed in my day? I didn’t really know or appreciate the skill involved in growing and caring for a plant regardless of whether or not it bore edible fruit.
But honestly, I don’t know – maybe it was being in the presence of other hippies. Maybe it was seeing all these farming/engineering students selling the results from their semester. Maybe it was excitement about being able to support other small businesses. Maybe it was the vegan organic dark chocolate truffles that I bought (and let me tell you… they were so darn good, I was actually angry at how delicious they were!) But something in the air was just, relaxing. It was peaceful. It was fun.
People often say that the grocery store allows you to remain separated from the process that created your food, and I now fully believe that. I purchased a bushel of tarragon from a woman who told me exactly how to care for “her” fresh herbs. Bought two bushels of mustard greens and two of turnip greens from a guy who’s hand I shook and laughed with as I complained about my inability to even sprout rosemary in my little pot, let alone greens. I mean, there’s a real passion and excitement from these people – a hunger to get paid, yes, but a real desire to do what they do… and that’s the kind of stuff I can support. Absolutely.
I will tell you, though – as I was heading out, I happened to pass by the only Black-owned and operated booth (looked to be all-women, too) at the market. I actually snatched up my daughter and took off speed walking to find out what they were selling. Pulled pork, rib tips, BBQ chicken… all kinds of meat. Smelled like heaven – do you hear me? Heavenly. However… as I’m slowly paring down my meat consumption, it just wasn’t the day for me to indulge and I knew that day wasn’t coming anytime soon. I called one of the girls over to the side and told her “Hey, I’d love to support y’all, but I don’t eat meat – do you have anything that you offer for the meat-free?” She called over the elder who pretty much just laughed at me, almost like she was ready to say “Girl, you better eat some of this chicken!”
They eventually offered to sell me their BBQ sauce which, while I make a pretty mean BBQ sauce on my own, I was still glad to take in order to be able to support. The elder asked me, “If you don’t eat meat, though… what are you going to use the BBQ sauce on?” I just told her… “Grilled corn, grilled or baked veggie kabobs – just grill it up real proper, brush the sauce on it and let it grill a little longer.” She gave me that “Ahhhh” face, thanked me, and I happily skipped off with my new sauce. (And I was so excited to see ’em there, I forgot to take pictures. I’ll be snapping away next week, though.) Hopefully, they take my idea and offer up some veggies next week. If not, I’ll just be buying that BBQ sauce because it was yummy.
Since I was actually doing the shopping this time, not just accompanying a friend, I learned a few lessons the hard way. Hopefully, you can learn from my trip:
Because there were so many sellers offering similar/the same items, it makes sense to wander around the entire market first and take note of who has the cheapest prices for your choice items. Since it is the time of year for your healthy greens, you’re likely to find a ton of people selling those very things and competing against one another for your money. There were a slew of people selling spinach and strawberries… looking before I purchased saved me a few dollars.
I had to also make sure I had a slew of singles on hand. Obviously, not everyone is going to have the swiper for a charge card, but even if they do have it, they’re not always reliable. Not only that, but… identities are valuable. Just sayin’. Keep your cash handy.
I also learned – the hard way – that sometimes, farmers will drop their prices right before time to close to ensure that they sell everything they brought out that day. The downside to this is that if you choose to wait, you very well may miss out on what you had your eye on. The upside is if all goes well, you can get it for half the price you originally saw or less. Have to play to win.
My last bit of advice in regard to visiting the farmer’s market? Enjoy yourself! I wasn’t expecting to see this giant kettle corn stand, nor was I expecting my little girl to keep getting offered free food and flowers. If I had known that, we would’ve skipped breakfast and just ate there! It’s a place full of people who enjoy what they do and just might have a thing or two to share with you. I mean, as many times as I saw heirloom* mushrooms and tomatoes, I was asking questions all day. That’s okay, though – they got my money, and I skipped off happily with my kale and zucchini and green tomatoes in tow.
If you’re wanting to check out all the fun for yourself, check out LocalHarvest.org to find the nearest farmer’s market or comparable grocery near you. I took mayyyybe $20 with me and came out with zucchini, green tomatoes, herbs, 4 bushels of greens, BBQ sauce, spinach, strawberries, honey (as seen in the photo of the honey sticks, there), my vegan organic chocolate truffles (which are making me mad again as I type this) and a bouquet of fresh flowers. For fresh and organic, I didn’t do too bad at all.
Share your experiences at the farmer’s market! Did you enjoy yourself there, as well? What do you usually get from there? Shoot, I’m always looking for new foods to experiment with!
*What’s heirloom? Just a variation of a plant that is rarely grown and sold anymore. Take corn, for example. Many farmers will stick to selling the type of corn most likely to sell/easiest to grow in bulk/easiest to process/easy/easy/easy. This causes many of the lesser known kinds of corn to become less and less common. So consider “heirloom” to be an antique version of a favorite kind of food, so to speak. 🙂
I love this post! I’ve been meaning to go to my local market after seeing how they biologically alter our corn which ended up being in a lot of food these days.
Good post. I don’t go to farmers markets as much since I have joined a CSA. It’s good to spread the word about farmers markets.
I get so excited when I see fresh produce. I learned years ago to shop the outskirts of any traditional market & to buy in season at local farmers markets when it’s the freshest & the least expensive. My son is a self-professed vegetarian at 4 yrs old. He never liked meat & I never used a need for protein as an excuse to make him eat it (I read others doing this as if there’s no other way to get protein). My daughter is a big carnivore (working on that)who loves fresh greens (mainly kale) and fresh fruit. I feel proud when I see then eat…it makes me think I’m doing something right! Great post!
I love my weekly Wed Farmers Market here in Marina Del Rey (CA). I work 5 min away and it’s my weekly therapy (away from the office). I enjoy the variety of fresh fruits and veggies, many of the vendors allow you to try their samples. As I stroll the vendor booths, I enjoy checking out the variety of colors of fruits and veggies and just amazed to see the fresh bok choy, cilantro, ginger, tomatoes, blood oranges(can’t forget the turnip and collard greens). There’s a Korean vendor who has the most amazing low sodium veggie broth (no msg). I buy it by the gallon and freeze in plastic containers to use as my base for my bok choy & ginger soup as well as my base for my tomato soup. Oftentimes, I heat on stove and just sip it. There’s nothing like fresh veggie broth (totally unlike the store brought brands.
A friend of mine has a garden and I go shopping at her house when I go to philly! She grows fresh herbs, green tomatoes and everything….and I love it! I wish I had a green thumb or the ability to turn dirt and not be allergic to weeds, lol! But thanks for posting this, you’ve convinced me to try the farmers market in Bmore on Sundays instead of Whole Foods & Trader Joe’s…I love organic Kale, Carrots & Celery…so much better for salads & juicing!
Tiffany I go to the farmers market in Baltimore under the 83 bridge all the time! You should definitely check it out. You can get a lb of greens ( Kale and Collard) for $1.00 by the donut stand!!!
I have to take a trip to the market this. peaches are coming in and I’m running low on veg so it’s nearly time to go. You made me hungry just reading this post.
Yay for the market. I mean big yay. I’m likely half crazy because my Saturday routine when I’m at home involves waking up, heading to spin, going to the all local market for my weekly veg, eggs, and yes bacon (every six weeks and frankly you can’t beat the taste of heritage pork if you are a pork eater), spending 3 bucks on whatever the market’s volunteer chef has cooked, getting a glass of champagne from whatever older nice man is out there, and sitting down to enjoy the music. OK so our Saturday all local market is like an event. I also get the best shea butter blends there. Either way, I LOVE it. No market for me this week because my granddad’s garden is bearing in record quantities and he needs me to come do some field work. That means I will have veg to freeze come Saturday. A lot to say I appreciate the producers at the market and my granddad and I think that has a bunch to do with the lessons my parents taught me about where my food came from when I was a kid. So Erika you are raising a little one that will grow up to be curious about the source and contents of her food supply and that curiosity will benefit her, her family, and her community. And that is a blessing for us all.
I worked at a small farmer’s market one summer in a low-income neighborhood. The farmer I worked with introduced me to a few produce items that summer. I also used to stroll through a market near my last office, but I never bought anything. Looking to change that this year, so I found out where my local farmer’s markets are two weeks ago. I missed opening day last week, but I’ll be there this week.
I love, love, love my farmer’s market! I can go once a month and pick up enough veggies to last me until my next trip for less than $40. I think since it’s summer I’m going to start going every other week since some things go in and out of season so fast. I had picked up some obscenely delicious sugar snap peas and was super disappointed when they weren’t there when I went back. It has really gotten to where, unless I’m shopping for a specific recipe or I’m satisfying a craving for something not in season, I get all of my veggies directly from the farmers. Call me crazy, but I swear I can taste a difference. As an added bonus, I get to feel all warm and fuzzy for supporting locally. I’ve never left a farmer’s market without some great stuff.
I adore the Farmer’s Market! I used to go there as a little girl, but had never once gone as an adult until a friend of mines went on and on about the awesomeness of it a few weeks back. The area where he lives is farm central, so he gets the food straight from the ground, to the pot, to the plate.
We won’t mention how slightly jealous it makes me to realize he gets that farm fresh taste, but I digress.
He said that a lot of the people in his town grow crops and sell it, and that I’d find items there MUUUUCH cheaper than any grocery store, and it’d be twice as fresh (I’m already p.o.ed with Wally-world produce: It know what it did *glare*)
I visited with mom and found SO many veggies–but the environment wasn’t nearly as friendly as mentioned in your article–which is VERY well written btw.
There were people standing around, shooting an occasional glare. Sometimes a seller would ask weakly, ‘Do you need somethin’?’ Other than that, I had zero qualms. I managed to get cucumber, all sorts of fruits, and even jalapeno and habanero peppers for a measly ten bucks! If that aint a steal then I don’t know what is.
I’m still on a low-cal smoothie binge, so coincidentally to reading this article, I was planning on making me another trip tomorrow. Te Amo, Farmer’s Market!
OMG, Wal-Mart produce. I went to the Wal-Mart for some oranges one day and EVERY SINGLE BAG on that rack was full of molded oranges. I resolved then and there to never buy another anything at Wal-Mart, nope nope nope. I was too done.
Farmer’s Markets are Fantastic! I would never have thought before I moved to Cleveland, that there were sooo many local farmers and markets!
There are couple in downtown Cleveland during summer-fall timeframe. it’s great to buy local and try different produce that’s in season. An added bonus is that there are food trucks with things like organic ice cream and burgers.
I can totally relate to your enthusiasm. I sneak to my farmers market every once in a while. Its open on Saturdays until 3pm, and it just so happens that I work until 3pm each saturday. So i often times have to sneak away with a client or refuse lunch and steal 20 minutes. But the energy there just over whelms me. 20 minutes isnt nearly enough. I find my trips there to be my own little escape from the world around me. To me the farmers market reminds me of the little hiding places i had as a child where I would go and just thrive. Its a secret place where you wanna invite everyone too….but not everyone gets giddy about it like you would
Mmm, farmer’s market! I haven’t gotten a chance to go the local one in my area yet, but I’ve been doing the local Bountiful Baskets food co-op and getting a half-veggie, half-fruit basket for $15! It’s really helping me eat more veggies.
Just wanted to mention to you if you ever get to come to the Catskill area we have many farmers’ markets because this is farm country you could have a nice long weekend and bring friends. Great exercise good food all natural and healthy fun. come
visit us on Enjoy Jefferson, NY we have alot to offer
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