10 Reasons to Shop Your Local Farmers’ Market

Hot Peppers at Market

During the summer and early fall, I rarely shop at the grocery store. Of course I have to buy necessities such as toilet paper and laundry detergent, and pantry staples like olive oil, grains, salt and pepper. (As far as I know they’re not harvesting sea salt anywhere near Kansas City.) But I prefer to do the bulk of my shopping at a nearby farmers’ market where I’m able to purchase from local growers, farmers, bakers and cheese makers. Rising bright and early on a Saturday morning and heading to the market is one of my biggest joys. Here are 10 reasons why:

  1. The food tastes better – The green beans, eggs, gluten-free brownies, you name it, just taste better. I find that food grown, raised or baked by folks passionate about their craft tastes of love.
  2. Fresher food is more nutritious – The produce I buy direct from farmers usually has been picked within 24 hours of being sold at the market. Your grocer can’t say that about his blueberries imported from Mexico. The sooner you eat fresh foods, they better they are for you.
  3. It’s more fun – It’s a blast shopping at a farmers’ market. Make it part of your weekend ritual. Include your kids and teach them where food really comes from. They may be more likely to eat a carrot if they meet the farmer who pulled it from the earth.
  4. You get to be picky –You can choose the exact heirloom tomato you want to slice for your lunch.
  5. Helps you eat seasonally – Sorry, but we’re not supposed to eat asparagus year round. And when we do, it’s because the asparagus has been grown in a country far, far away and shipped across hemispheres and time zones to get to our supermarket. The food you buy from a local farmer is seasonal. It’s grown in a location and climate with the perfect conditions to produce a superior product using minimal resources. Reconnect with Mother Nature. Enjoy tender asparagus in the spring, sweet, sweet corn in the summer, and orange-fleshed pie pumpkins in the fall.
  6. Try something new – Local markets are full of cool, weird, funky vegetables; red kohlrabi that looks like a spaceship, sweet yellow carrots and heads of purple cauliflower. You’ll also find new varieties of your old favorites, for example the meaty flavor of Kentucky Wonder green beans will blow your mind.
  7. Support your local community/economy – It feels good to put your money where your mouth is. Support local farmers, particularly farmers who farm using organic practices. They work hard to produce a superior product without harming the earth. Good, quality food may not be cheap. It takes backbreaking work to provide you and your family with healthy, wholesome products.
  8. Meet someone from Burma – Many markets feature ethnic farmers growing and selling fruits and vegetables used in their native cooking. When’s the last time you got to chat with a Burmese farmer about her exotic crop of bitter gourd, chayote or unusual eggplant varieties? Be sure and ask what to do with the vegetables when you get them home.
  9. Brook and Dan – This pair of hardworking food activists own and operate URBAVORE – Urban Farm, within the city limits of Kansas City, Missouri. Every Friday night through the end of February (that’s right, February!) they bring some of the tastiest organic produce to their very own market, Badseed, located in the Crossroads Arts District at 1909 McGee Street, KCMO 64108 They know their stuff. Ask them about no-till farming.
  10. Fred and Helen – Two fixtures of Kansas City’s historic City Market, this married couple own and operate Nature’s Choice Biodynamic Farm, near St. Joseph, Missouri. From the New Zealand spinach to the Kentucky Wonder green beans, every variety they sell has been carefully vetted. A treasure trove of organic farming knowledge, Fred can tell you why his grape tomatoes are some of the tastiest around. Ask them about biodynamic farming.
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