Farmers' market season is in full swing here in New England, and hopefully it is where you are, too. If you haven’t shopped at a farmers market in the past, there’s no better time to start — business is booming across the country, with more than 8,100 markets counted as of 2013 (20 years ago there were fewer than 1,800). Still not convinced? Here are five great reasons to head to the nearest farmers' market:
All produce, meats or dairy products from a local farmers' market taste better because they’re as fresh as you can get. Fruits and vegetables ripen naturally and are not gassed and waxed in a warehouse. Their just-picked flavors absolutely can’t be duplicated, and although it might seem like a bummer to not find the huge international variety found at a grocery store, there is something so wonderful about eating only what is in season in your own back yard.
OK, most farmers' markets do sell some treats like ice cream or baked goods, but even those are made with all-natural, usually organic and always wholesome ingredients. Search all day, but you won't anything that comes in a factory-sealed package with a long list of ingredients, most of which you can’t pronounce.
It’s New and Unusual
When you shop at a farmers' market, don’t come with a recipe in mind. Instead, let the farmers plan your menu. Try something new, like garlic scapes or heirloom tomatoes or purple carrots. If you’re not sure what to do with it, just ask. Most farmers are also amazing cooks, and have lots of recipe ideas in their back pocket!
Most food available from a regular grocery store travels thousands of miles to get from farm to warehouse to store to you. Of course that affects quality and flavor, but it also comes at a huge cost to the environment. Shopping at a farmers' market saves fossil fuel, and reduces pollution and waste from packaging.
Local farmers' markets are a lovely way to visit with friends and neighbors and connect with your community. They’re also a great way to get to know the people who grow your food. Local farmers take great care in what they grow and pride in what they sell. It’s also nice to understand and appreciate the problems small farmers face from the weather or injury to a crop – really makes you appreciate why those prices are so high sometimes.
Find farmers' markets near you by visiting Local Harvest. And if you need inspiration for that large haul of vegetables you picked up at the farmers' market, try the Summer Harvest "Ceviche" recipe below.
Summer Harvest "Ceviche"
Recipe developed by Anne Danahy, MS, RD, LDN; adapted from Food & Wine
This summer harvest ceviche is a perfect side dish with grilled fish, or you can keep it vegetarian by adding some quinoa and black beans for protein.
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 cup frozen edemame, thawed
2 nectarines, cut into thin wedges
1 large red pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 ripe avocado, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped (save for garnish)
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 orange
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Whisk together ingredients for dressing in a small bowl or measuring cup and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine nectarines and all vegetables. Toss well to combine. Pour dressing over salad and refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend.
- Add cilantro before serving and adjust seasonings as necessary.