My Trip to the Farmers Market: What I Discovered and What I Made
A few weeks ago I was determined to wake up, get off my butt, and go to the local farmers market. Several weekends had passed with me saying that I was going to pick up some fresh local goods, and every weekend, laziness would kick in and Instacart would be at my door. Ever since our battle with COVID-19, my family and I have been trying to make better, healthier food choices, all while supporting our local food systems. I garden, but don’t grow enough food to support my family yet. And I want to develop relationships with local farmers and growers who have a passion for what they produce. Since I had worked on the artisan end at the local farmers market, I felt confident that my money would be well spent there.
End result? I left with two of my reusable bags filled with goodies (some paid for and some gifted) and a newfound respect for those vendors that get out every weekend to make a living doing what they love. If you’ve never shopped a farmers market (or maybe didn’t shop the right ones), consider these things:
Shopping at a farmers market is not the same as your local grocery store. Most local markets are filled with vendors that DIRECTLY make the product you’re buying. From fresh fruits and vegetables, to nuts and local honey, you can be sure that the items you buy are made within your specific region.
Shopping at a farmers market does not exclusively mean that you’re shopping ‘organic’. If you’re defining ‘organic’ by not using chemicals on growing produce, then I can’t guarantee that every product you buy from a farmers market is that. But guess what (see next point)?
You are free to ask all the questions. If you want to know how a vendor makes their items, what they use and whether they’re considered organic, ask them. Most vendors know their stuff. They’re like mini-experts. As a matter of fact, I would worry more about a vendor that doesn’t know their product than about one who answers truthfully and honestly.
I would buy all of the things if I had all of the money. Being a small business owner, I know what each sale means to someone’s livelihood. So I had to make a list and set a budget or else I would have been broke.
The quality is awesome. I don’t care what you say. I can tell the difference between fresh grown herbs and those in the produce aisle. I can taste the difference between a fresh egg and those in the dairy aisle. And I got cheese from a shop that I promise was so rich and decadent I felt 100% happier. If you can shop a market on a regular, it’s worth it.
Not every vendor is created equal. I knew my mom wanted some homemade peach jam and I found two people selling it. One vendor had a small jar of jam and was selling it for $15 (ouch!) while another had a small jar for $8. They both were probably equally as good, but I still couldn’t see myself paying $15 for a jar that wouldn’t last for 2 weeks in my household. So I went with the $8 jar of peach jam and I’m still enjoying it today.
It’s best to get to know the people you’re buying from. Not only do you want to know the people growing your food, but as I stood talking to the vendors, they let me know which products they liked and recommended. What better opinions to listen to than the people who tried the product?!
They love their customers, hard. I had several conversations with some of the vendors that led to free produce, mushroom oils and just great connections. And that’s not what I went out there for. But these vendors are people. They feel what you feel. And those connections are worth much more than some of the savings I can get from my local grocer.
Yes, I still shop at the grocery stores Not everything is sold at the farmers market. But let me show you some of what I made with my last purchase. If you’re in Texas and want to know about your certified local farmers markets, visit the gotexan.org. If you're looking for fresh-baked, locally-sourced goods, visit our Zo's Baked Goods website. And if you need a great shopping bag for your trip, shop our handmade, repurposed shopping bags and produce bags. They're washable, sturdy and great to fold up and tuck in to your purse for a quick shopping trip. Let's work to get rid of single use plastics!