We’ve heard for years that local and sustainable is the gold standard we should strive for in our diets. Local and sustainable, though, can be difficult. After all, when you shop at your grocery store, how do you know what is grown in your locality and what is shipped in?
That’s where shopping at a farmers’ market comes in. Buying local means often the freshest fruits and vegetables, and many farmers’ markets have dairy or butcher shops, so you can effectively skip the grocery store, and help your own community at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.
Do you have a farmers’ market in your area? How do you know? For 15 years, the USDA has been counting the farmers’ markets in the United States. Since the first directory was released in 1994, the number of farmers’ markets has tripled to 5,274. The directory makes it easy to locate farmers’ markets. It also gives you other information, like if they accept food stamps, or what types of products are being sold. The 2010 USDA Farmers’ Market Directory will be released in late summer 2010 and will also include late winter market listings.
What can you buy at a farmers’ market? In addition to apples, tomatoes, peppers, and onions, I’ve seen potatoes, melons of all sizes and types, herbs, and even organic compost for sale. Take your children with you to your farmers’ market and allow them to pick out a few new foods. It’s much more likely that they will sample something different if they’ve had a chance to be involved in the decision.
Here are some great recipes to try with your new purchases: