29 March 2013

Eating locally and seasonally: farmers' markets

Have you ever noticed that fruit and veggies just taste better when they're in season? Or that they taste better purchased from that little road stand than at the grocery store? For the last few summers I've started a habit of binging on fresh, ripe peaches from May-July when I go to our local farmer's market (If you're in Atlanta, Pearson Farm peaches are the best I've ever eaten and apparently they will deliver out of state!). The produce in both of the examples above have three things going for them: (1) there is significantly less time between it being picked and it getting to you (as compared to the supermarket) so they retain more nutrients, (2) it is grown in its appropriate conditions (opposed to year round greenhouses, etc.) since you are buying food in season, and (3) it is picked when it is ripe rather than being picked early and either ripened in transit or ripened on demand for retail stores.

According to Wikipedia, there were 5,274 farmers' markets in 2009, up from 4,385 in 2006 and 1,755 in 1994. I'm assuming those numbers have only kept increasing in the last four years. If you live near a major city, I'd guess there is a farmer's market somewhere nearby. I'm not big on networking, but a lot of people like to talk to the farmers and ask them questions about their produce and how the farmers themselves like to prepare it. From my experience, these farmers are some of the nicest down-home people you'll come across these days and they are passionate and knowledgeable about what they do. Personally, I like to admire all of the colors and varieties of produce and people watch.

If you're interested in finding a farmers' market or CSA near you, you might want to visit http://www.localharvest.org/ as a starting point. You can put in your zip code or city and search for farms, markets, CSAs, etc. Many of the markets in my area have good websites of their own that list the farmers that are attending that day (or regularly) as well as charts to show what produce is in season in your area at different times of the year. Some also have email signups so you can get a notification each week as to which vendors will be attending and any special events, like local musicians or fundraising events, that are happening. This is a really great way to teach your kids (or remind yourself) where the food you eat actually comes from. It's also nice to get out of the house and walk around in the sunshine (hopefully) and enjoy the sights and smells. Winning all around!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have an opinion on what I'm writing or just want to say "hi!"? Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you!