They’re Baaack!! No…not creepy ghosts coming out of the TV…(although I heard a rumor that those are coming back too…). It’s Farmer’s Markets!!!
I LOVE the farmer’s market. The sounds, the smells, the atmosphere. It used to be just a fun weekend activity.
When I decided that I would try to buy more local produce, the farmer’s market quickly became very overwhelming. Why does EVERY stand have to sell tomatoes?!?! Which stand should I be buying tomatoes from? Crap, I just bought tomatoes…and those look sooo much better.
Forget it! I’ll only shop at the stands labeled organic.Well, that’s well and good, but I knew that I was missing out. So I started reaching out and asking questions. You know what? Local farmers are really cool!
It took me a while, but now when I go to the market I know who I want to buy from. And if there is a new seller, I know that they are more than happy to answer any of my questions.
I’ve been asking them what kind of questions people should be asking when they’re discovering a new farmer. I learned a lot!
1 ~ What kind of pesticides and fertilizers do you use? Natural and Organic farmer’s have approved pesticides that can be used. Ask them what, if any, effects their sprays have on the soil and bees. If they are using conventional, synthetic, or “traditional” sprays, I thank them politely and move on.
2 ~ Where is your produce grown? You’d be surprised how many people do not grow the produce they are selling. That’s not always a bad thing. But if they do not grow it, they should at least know it. They should know where it comes from and how it is grown.
3 ~ How are your animals raised and what do you feed them? I buy eggs and meat at farmers markets. I want to know that the animals have been grass fed, not injected with anything, not fed any GMO grains, and humanely raised.
4 ~ Where do you get your seeds? I love finding a farmer who uses their own seeds. But any clean start is a good one. You might even get some great tips on saving your own seeds! My local grower taught me that if I find a tomato that I really enjoy, save the seeds and let them dry on a paper towel. Boom. Organic & local seeds…no extra cost!
5 ~ When was it picked? One of the perks of the farmer’s market is how fresh the produce is. Fun fact, the kale I bought today was picked at 4:00 yesterday!
The first few times you ask these questions might feel overwhelming. But the more you do it, the more comfortable you will become. Plus you’ll learn quite a bit about what you’re eating. You may even get some tips on how to cook, prepare, and store your groceries!A few more things to keep in mind when shopping.
Organic is not always necessary. Becoming certified organic is a process. You’ll find a lot of farmers would rather not go through the time or expense of getting certified. And that’s OK. These farmers are selling at a farmers market, not a grocery store. The only difference between their produce and the certified organic stuff will be the prices.
Know what’s in season. This week’s market didn’t have tomatoes or corn at every stand. But I walked away with some delicious lettuce, kale, asparagus, carrots and some herb seedlings.Make sure the person you’re talking to actually knows what they’re talking about. (which is another reason why I ask so many question) Last year, I walked up to a stand and asked if they used any sprays. The girl quickly replied no. So I started buying. The prices were amazing…I kept buying. I was so excited! I asked, are you sure none of this is sprayed with anything. This time…she hesitated. A man quickly jumped in and said that nothing was sprayed. But my confidence was shattered. I finished my purchase and left. Your farmer should answer confidently and intelligently any question that you ask. If you ask the right questions, you’ll walk away feeling happy instead of feeling ripped off.
I’m excited to see what’s on sale next weekend!
Make sure to keep a note of who you see so you can find them again! If you make nice they will remember you. After a few weeks they might even save you the best bunch of carrots!!
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