If you take a few minutes and plan your meals for the week, then make a quick trip to your local Saturday or Sunday morning farmers market you will eat better, for less money and get more nutritional bang for your buck than if you go to your local grocery store every weekend. The secret is to get into the habit of visiting your local market every week if possible. If you work all week, you know you spend a certain amount of time running errands on Saturdays or Sundays anyway, so why not just include the farmers market on your list?
You can either make this a quick trip to the farmers market –zip in, get exactly what you want and get out, or you can make it an all morning–try on pooka shell necklaces–shop for himalayan pink salt sculpture lamps and get a massage— affair.
If you are fortunate enough to have more than one farmers market in your area, visit all of them once to get a feel for the types of vendors selling their produce and wares at each market, then choose the one that best fits your needs and is open on the weekend morning you are most likely to frequent it regularly.
Here’s what I do:
Plan several basic dinners and lunches for the week and make a list of what I need to buy to make those meals. I keep in mind what fruits and vegetables are in season right now and plan that into the meals we’ll be making. You’ll get better at knowing what is in season the more you visit the market. You may have to be flexible and alter the menu a bit based on what is available, but that is part of the fun.
IT’S NOT JUST VEGGIES ANYMORE!
One of our local markets offers free range duck you can order on a Saturday and when you come the next week, they will have it all ready for you to pick up! Another offers fresh seafood right from the fisherman’s boat early Sunday mornings. Other vendors have cheese and butter made from raw milk, free range eggs, goat cheese, bison meat, fresh flowers, nuts, honey, fresh baked goods, hard to find ethnic spices, olives, olive oil and the list goes on.
If you have any doubt whether it is worth the “extra time” it will take you to go to market each week,consider the superior freshness and nutritional value of the food and the absence of pesticides. Also consider the smile you will have on your face when you buy a $3 basket of strawberries right from the farmer that grew them and get free advice on how to store them–not that you’ll need to. The bright red, juicy pesticide-free strawberries I bought a few hours ago from Tamai Farms at the Channel Islands Farmers Market are already gone!
Maria Schell Burden is the Director of Marketing for AG Millworks, a custom millwork manufacturing company in California. She is a history buff and has published two historical biographies, “Professor T.S.C. Lowe and his Mountain Railway,” and “The Life and Times of Robert G. Fowler,” both from Borden Publishing. She is at work on her first historical novel “We Were Patriots, The Taming of the Mohawk Valley,” from MLF Press. Release date: August 6, 2013. She can be reached at email@example.com