with Anna Izzo
There's nothing quite like the sun shining down on your weekend morning while walking through the farmer's market with friends and family. Every other step is met with ooo-ing and ah-ing at the fresh produce vibrant with color and one-of-a-kind designs. But although a farmer's market is a great excuse to escape the house with friends - something we all look forward to after taking it for granted before the past two years hit - these markets can be much more than a trendy pastime with good company.
So why should you visit a farmer's market this summer?
Farmer's markets get us outside.
Whether it's Saranac Lake (Riverside Park, Saturdays), Lake Placid (Green Goddess parking lot, Wednesdays), or Keene (Marcy Field, Sundays), the farmer's markets in our Adirondack region are all in the great outdoors. Meaning if we go, we are outside soaking in the fresh air and sunshine (hopefully!). Who wouldn't want to do their grocery shopping for the week getting their daily dose of vitamin D at an outdoor market over rolling around a cart in a fluorescent-lit grocery store?
Your food will be more nutritious.
The foods we buy from the supermarkets are largely processed and packaged and if they are fresh produce, we can bet our selections have often been frozen and defrosted, or transported hours, sometimes days, to be put on that shelf. These groceries are bought and shelved for another few days, or even months until we wind up preparing them for a meal. All the while, the percentage of nutrients in those foods - especially the fresh produce - is dwindling each day. When you buy from a farmer or vendor at the market, the produce is much more reliably fresh, having been harvested likely just hours before you purchase it. By shopping locally and more frequently (weekly, rather monthly) in this way, your food is bursting with nutrients at every meal.
Who doesn't want that?
Next up, you'll actually save.
Just hear me out.
Who has done grocery runs only to find ingredients purchased weeks ago going bad in the back of the refrigerator? Or who has done grocery runs where you only needed one item but you left as a partial owner of the grocery store chain itself due to buying 25% of the inventory that you 100% did not need for dinner.
*everyone reading silently raises their hand in their head*
Grocery stores enable this - they give you every option of every ingredient and food item you could want in a moment's notice, increasing the likelihood that you will buy things you don't need, or overbuy things in trying to project needs weeks out. Where farmer's markets solve this problem is they require you to contemplate what you can realistically buy and prepare and eat within a week's time, rather than allowing you to buy ingredients with extended shelf lives. The vendors you buy from help with that by reminding you to only take what you need. Not only are the foods with shorter shelf lives healthier for you, but when bought from a local farmer rather than a grocery store, the price of production, relocation, and resale is lower, so you're saving on ingesting ingredients that are harmful to your system, plus you're saving dollars. And on the topic of dollars, let's talk about the next reason farmer's markets rule.
It speaks volumes.
Sure you can brag to your friends about being a farmer's market frequenter, but that's not what I mean by this one. What I mean is that by buying from a farmer's market (when you can - because let's be real, sometimes Hannaford or Price Chopper has what you need and well, mid-January the farmer's market just doesn't) you're voting with your dollars. Now we all know how important this concept is, because by voting with our dollars we - even down to the individual - can make a huge impact on the world. When we avoid buying from supermarket chains when we can, we are supporting the local economy, AND ensuring our supply chain hears us loud and clear that we want slow quality living, not fast convenient living.
Finally, farmer's markets rule because they teach us to eat seasonally.
Humans weren't meant to eat the same thing every day in and day out! We just weren't. We all have favorites and daily go-tos, but if we were farmers on a ranch back in Little House on the Prairie days, you would be eating neither strawberries at Christmas time, nor fall apples in the summer. It's a great luxury to have access to the foods we like year-round, but there is something to be said for learning to eat the produce that is fresh and in season. It only grows at that time of year for a reason (hint hint, it syncs with the nutrient needs of humans in their specific region and climate). The vendors at the farmer's market provide just that - fresh produce that is meant to fuel you in the present season to thrive in your environment.
And if you're not convinced yet, let me share a personal story to shed a bit more light on the topic. When I started using the farmer's market as my "grocery store in the summer" I was MUCH more intentional about food. It's easy to stalk up on pasta and frozen pizza, but that's the thing. Food, real nourishing food wasn't meant to be easy in the sense that it required no time or preparation or effort at all. Digestion begins when you catch that first whiff of something delicious cooking in the kitchen. This is why the actual ritual of preparing food is actually very important for our bodies to digest fully and properly.
I noticed a shift in mealtimes not only in my body, but also in my mindset. Food became more of a healing art than a stressful decision, because I knew the food I was bringing home each week and eating throughout the week was thoughtfully prepared and actually supported me in my daily exercise and to-dos.
This summer I'm eager to be registered for a share with Fledging Crow Farms, meaning unlimited (of course only what I will eat in a week to avoid food waste) fresh produce from June until October. I hardly can wait.
I hope to see you there!