Newsletter - June 2016
Summer is finally here & with it the return of farmers markets! Since mid-April shoppers have ventured out in the rain, wind & early morning chill to purchase fresh asparagus, sweet peas & early season strawberries. Farmers markets offer an abundance of seasonal produce, free range meats, artisan cheeses & fresh baked goods. Shopping at your local market supports smaller scale farmers & producers who adhere to organic & regenerative practices that fight global warming while promoting a fair trade supply chain. Follow these 5 tips to make the most out of this season’s shopping expedition to your local farmers market.
1. Establish a budget
Savvy shoppers set a budget before heading to out to the market. Many people save by only taking a limited amount of cash & leaving the credit cards at home. No budget, no shopping list & an ample supply of credit cards can be tempting to over buy. Resulting in too much spinach or too many leeks than one could possibly eat.
2. Do a walk around
As pretty as the flowers or as enticing as the Bing cherries & white peaches look, before shopping, take a walk around. Preview the market; look at what is available & at what price points. As always, look for those who are certified organic producers & sustainable sellers with approved 3rd party certification (USDA Organic) or adhere to participatory guarantee systems (PGS), locally focused quality assurance systems.
3. Buy in bulk & split it
If you & your neighbor both want blueberries or you & your friend are making rhubarb pies, ask if farmers offer discounts on bulk quantities of vegetables, whole flats of fruits or flowers.
4. Get to know your vendor
Talk to your local farmer or purveyor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions on how to use or prepare their products. By all means share your results. Farmers & sellers are often experts in their category with a wealth of information, they are also more likely to offer a better deal to regulars they know.
5. Avoid haggling
A farmers market is not a souk. There is a big difference between politely asking for a discount & wrangling for a better deal. Higher prices for organic produce & foods are due to higher operating costs, better ingredients & ultimately offering quality over quantity.
Farmers Markets date back 5,000 years ago to ancient Egypt where people sold fruit & vegetables, grains & meat along the Nile river. In Colonial Virginia, farmers & producers organized informal markets along the James River in the mid. 1600’s. Farmers markets as we know them today with rows of tents & tables, began in the mid. 19th century in Philadelphia. Managed by the local city government, the High Street Market sold cheese, meat, seafood, baked goods & sweets in addition to fruit & vegetables.
Today one can shop at farmers markets from Asia to Africa, Europe to South America, from 3 to 4 vendors selling fresh produce to the largest market with over 1,700 stalls in Tokyo, Japan. Farmers markets are child & often pet friendly, they allow people to connect with their community even in a big city. Direct to consumers without 3rd parties, farmers markets allow people to purchase directly from the producer at the peak of freshness, goods are seasonal, locally produced & often certified organic. In addition to the savings, shopping & cooking from farmers markets allows us to reconnect with nature & enjoy the delicious bounty each season offers.