“What makes the farmers market such a special place is that you’re actually creating community around food” ~ Bryant Terry
When you think about summer what comes to mind? The beach? Sun? The pool? Vacation? Ice Cream? No School? What about food?
In a society where our food is found in a season-less grocery store, most of us never worry about eating food that is in season or preserving food for later. We can have peaches in December and tomatoes in February and we never have to bat an eyelash. The problem is that there is a cost to buying out of season food and a lot of benefits to buying in season food from your local farmer’s market.
Here are 5 reasons to shop at your local farmer’s market this summer:
- More Nutritious Food: Food at the farmer’s market is picked at the height of its ripeness and nutritiousness. Food at the grocery store is picked long before it is ripe and then ripened later using gas so that it can withstand traveling from its growing location to your store. This impacts its nutritional value by lowering the amounts of natural vitamins and minerals in the food.
- Support Your Local Economy: If every single person in the United States spent $100 a year more on local business instead of chain stores, it would put an extra $3 million a year in our economy. Not only that but it would create thousands more jobs every year. (1)
- Its Educational: Learning when food is in season, where it comes from, how it grows, what is natural to your area, and how to preserve it is educational for the whole family. When I started eating more local food I was surprised by how much food grew in my area in the winter, I was surprised that beets were in season in the summer and not just in the fall, and I learned that strawberries are in season earlier in the spring that I ever thought they would be. Its not just educational for your children, its also educational for you! However, if you have children, giving them the opportunity to pick out their food and learn about it is likely to get them more on-board with eating healthier foods because suddenly they associate veggies with a lot more than just something they are forced to eat.
- Builds Relationships: One of the things I love most about my farmer’s market is the familiarity of knowing who I will be buying my food from. I like the peaches from Mr. and Mrs. McLamb the best, but Stella has the best eggs. I know who they are, what they grow and that they will be there next week when I need more food. Its fun and it makes me appreciate my food and savor it more than I ever would if it had been bought at Food Lion.
- Save Money: Finally, buying from your farmer’s market will often save you money. When certain things are in season everyone has them and that lowers the price. Whereas, for the most part, the food we buy at the grocery store is always going to be about the same price because it always coming from that same far away place.
To help get you started here is a recipe utilizing three ingredients you are likely to find at your local farmer’s market now and in the months ahead beets, sweet potatoes, and mint. Enjoy!
Roasted Beet and Sweet Potato Salad with a Sweet Mint Vinaigrette – (AIP, Paleo)
Roasted Beet and Sweet Potato Salad
- 1 Bunch of Beets (3-4 small to medium sized) Peeled and Chopped
- 2 Sweet Potatoes Peeled and Chopped
- 3 TBS Olive Oil
- 1 TBS Maple Syrup
- ½ Tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ Tsp Rosemary
- Sprinkle of Sea Salt
Sweet Mint Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- ¼ cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 TBS maple Syrup
- Sprinkle of Sea Salt
- ¼ cup of fresh mint chopped
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In a large baking pan add your beets, sweet potatoes, olive oil, maple syrup, and spices and mix to coat. Bake for one hour, stirring occasionally. The sweet potatoes should be soft and the beets should be able to be easily pierced by a fork but will still have a bit of firmness to them. When they are finished take them out and allow them to cool.
In a small bowl add your dressing ingredients and stir to combine. You can also use your food processor or blender for this.
When your beets and sweet potatoes have cooled, combine them in a large bowl with your dressing and toss to coat. Serve cold.
Do you shop at your local Farmer’s Market? What are your favorite things to buy from the Farmer’s Market?