Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ten Reasons to Shop at the Farmers Market

My old mommy friend Rebecca over at Know Thy Food is an amazing woman.  She lives the kind of life I strive to emulate.  I especially admire her commitment to avoiding grocery stores and mainstream food consumption.  This means buying only local, organic foods.  Of course, it helps that she lives in an area surrrounded by outstanding farms!  I do my best in Orange County by buying most of our meat directly in bulk from the farm and shopping the farmers market every week.  The few things I stop by the grocery store for are:  organic, raw, grass-fed butter, organic, raw, grass-fed cream, nuts, condiments/spices, almond milk, coconut milk and other coconut products, and occasionally yogurt and cottage cheese.  I am working on finding ways to make some of these items myself or buying them from a more direct source.  Any suggestions?

For those of you looking for a farmers market near you, you can visit  Noah and I love our weekly visit to the farmers market.  Everyone there is so nice to him and he is learning so much about where food actually comes from and what is in season.  He is also learning a little about money by being in charge of paying for our items in cash.  The main reasons we shop at the farmers market are:

(taken from the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture at

1.  Taste Real Flavors: The fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmers market are the freshest and tastiest available. Fruits are allowed to ripen in the field and brought directly to you - no long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage. This food is as real as it gets -food fresh from the farm.

2.  Enjoy the Season: The food you buy at the farmers market is seasonal. It is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavors. Shopping and cooking from the farmers market helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in our region. As you look forward to asparagus in spring, savor sweet corn in summer, or bake pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the turning of the year.

3.  Support Family Farmers: Family farmers are becoming increasingly rare as large agribusiness farms and ranches steadily take over food production in the U.S. Small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today's globalized economy.

4.  Protect the Environment: Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes greatly to pollution and creates excess trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land and air with toxic agricultural by-products. Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.

5.  Nourish Yourself: Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed. The fresh produce you do find is often grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. In many cases it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. All of these practices have potentially damaging effects on the health of those who eat these foods. In contrast, most food found at the farmers market is minimally processed, and many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by building their soil's fertility and giving their crops the nutrients they need to flourish in the ground and nourish those who eat them.

6.  Discover the Spice of Life ~ Variety: At the Farmers Market you find an amazing array of produce that you don't see in your supermarket: red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, white peaches, stinging nettles, green garlic, watermelon radishes, quail eggs, maitake mushrooms, gigande beans, whole pheasants, and much, much more. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience first hand the diversity (and biodiversity) of our planet, both cultivated and wild!

7.  Promote Humane Treatment of Animals: At the farmers market, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and been fed natural diets, and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of so many of their brethren on feedlots.

8.  Know Where Your Food Comes From: A regular trip to a farmers market is one of the best ways to reconnect with where your food comes from. Farmers themselves sell their produce at the farm stands. Meeting and talking to farmers is a great opportunity to learn more about how food is grown, where it is grown, when it is grown, and why!

9.  Learn Cooking Tips, Recipes, and Meal Ideas: Few grocery store cashiers or produce stockers will give you tips on how to cook the ingredients you buy, but farmers, ranchers, and vendors at the farmers market are often passionate cooks with plenty of free advice about how to cook the foods they are selling. They'll give you ideas for what to have for supper, hand out recipes, and troubleshoot your culinary conundrums.

10.  Connect with Your Community: Wouldn't you rather stroll amidst outdoor stalls of fresh produce on a sunny day than roll your cart around a grocery store with artificial lights and piped in music? Coming to the Farmers Market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. The Farmers Market is a community gathering place - a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children, or just get a taste of small-town life in the midst of our wonderful big city.


  1. you know I'm also all about the farmers market! I'm wondering, where do you get your butter (and cream), and how much does it cost? I go through butter like CRAZY, seriously, so cost is a factor for me. I always get organic, but I'm curious about the raw part. Oh, also ;-) does it taste good? I tried raw milk and really did not care for it, does the butter taste funky too, or more like "regular" butter? thanks in advance, Laura ;-)

  2. Hey Lili! We buy our butter and cream from Mother's or Whole Foods. They are both kind of expensive (cream: $11.99/pint) and I think the butter is around $7 for a tub. Sorry not totally sure about the quantities per amount. I am waiting to hear back from a lady who runs a co-op for Organic Pastures products in HB. I can give you the info if you're interested when I hear back from her. The raw butter is awesome...kind of nutty, and it is unsalted. It is different tasting from regular butter, but very easy to get use to because it is so yummy! Come over and you can try some! We miss you guys sooo much. Yeah, the cost is prohibitive for us lately too, which is why I'm looking into the co-op to see if it's cheaper that way. I'll let you know!