Every year I count down the days for the summer farmers markets to open back up. There are tons of farmers markets popping up all over, and living in NYC, I'm not short on my options. On Wednesdays, a block away from my office is a great farmers market where I've come to really get to know the vendors. While it is chock full of delicious fruits and veggies, you can also get fresh seafood, farm fresh eggs, plants and flowers, breads, honey and pickles. There is also a stand to drop off old clothing to be reused and recycled.
While there are many great reasons to check out your local farmers market, here are the reasons I think more people should shop at them.
1. You can get more for your money. Last summer, I was making fresh pressed juice almost every day. This can get pretty pricey, as I needed a lot of vegetables and fruits. Buying my apples and big bunches of carrots and beets really saved my wallet. For three dollars I would get bunches of 5-7 large beets. This would last me a couple of weeks. Bonus - I could cook up the beet and carrot greens to add to pastas and rice - so many meals from one bunch!
2. You get to meet your farmer. It's great to meet the farmer who's put all of the hard work and love into growing the beautiful produce you buy. The vendors come from all over New York State and New Jersey, and are happy to answer any questions you have about what they're selling. I've seen pictures of the free range chickens who've laid the eggs I've bought, and gotten great tips on how to use new to me veggies, like squash blossoms and kohlrabi.
3. Food that’s in season tastes better. By shopping at farmers markets, you’re only buying fruits and veggies that are in season. That’s because these are picked at their prime ripeness. Have you ever had a fresh picked tomato versus one that was bought in the winter months? Try a taste test – farmers market cherry tomatoes are like candy for me. So sweet and delicious.
4. Local food is safer for the environment and for you. Buying local puts less miles between your farm and your table, meaning less carbon dioxide emissions and packing materials. It also makes food contamination less possible, since there are less steps between harvesting, washing, shipping and distribution.
5. Buying local food helps support family farms. By purchasing directly from the farmer, you’re giving them the full retail price of their produce, cutting out the middleman of the grocery store where they only get a percentage. By purchasing directly, you’re helping support these small family run farms.
If you want to find a farmer’s market near you check out the USDA's national farmer's market directory.