Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts”)

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Welcome to the August 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Farmer’s Markets

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about something new they’ve learned about their local farmers.

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“Mama, mama! Let’s go to the fah-mah’s mah-ket togudder!”
“Ok! What should we get?”
“We should get bruffel frouts, broccoyi, finach…”

This farmers’ market exchange happens daily.

My daughter knows the farmers’ market well. We go to several farmers’ markets a week. (We have four within 15 min of us–two in 5!) In season, with our coop and CSA membership, we never go to a grocery store. Now that’s something we both love!

Farmers’ markets are “in” and exciting these days.

Even so, like CSAs, farmers’ markets can take some getting used to. Some folks can miss out on the real joys and benefits of farmers markets. They don’t quite work like the store, so they can take some effort on our part as consumers.

While some stores make an effort to make a personal connection, farmers’ markets allow us to make a personal connection to the folks growing our food.

Here is my list of Not-So-Common Farmers’ Market “Musts”

  • Bring our own bags. 
    Ok. This first one might be common, but it’s a must for me! Poor farmers hauling and paying for bags. Plus, I try to keep the berry/veggie containers, egg cartons, honey jars, etc. to give back. Those costs add up for them. I put the bags on the door handle and the containers near there (and then in the bag—baby brain much?).
  • Talk to the farmers/sellers. 
    I ask the non-organic folks about their practices. It’s a rare farm around me that is organic, but there are lots that don’t spray. I found out from talking to farmer folks that some of them who rent land are in binds b/c of the landowner. Never thought of that. There are some farmers doing sustainable work and producing healthy food that don’t have a certain label. I also like to ask them about things I hear. Ask the raw goat/cow milk guy if he is experiencing any pressure with the crackdowns going down on raw milk.
  • Find your folks, and give them all the love and attention you can. 
    I have a honey guy, a mushroom guy, produce people, the goat cheese person. I have my favorites and ask after their day and families and such. They’re always passing me extra goodies, which I think is generous of them….and super yummy for my family!
  • If you need to know (or even if you’re a bit curious), ASK. 
    Eating tips, storing, recipes, and more. I ask about growing my food since they know how to grow things. There is so much to learn from the wise people I find at the farmers’ markets.
  • Talk to your farmers ahead of time. 
    Tell them what you want. For example, you might be able to get cases so you can freeze, can/jar, or store for the winter. Only one step from pick your own for bulk preserving and oh so yum!
  • Join the mailing lists of the vendors you trust and like.
    Then you can get email updates. I get tips on the best pick your own dates, recipes for unusual foods and contact info to keep track of where folks are if they stop coming to the market. There can be a lot of politics behind the scenes of farmers’ markets, and I like to know that I can find the farmers I know and trust.

If we want healthy foods to be available, then we need to support farmers, not just the farms they run. They need us, and we need them. Together we can help each other.

I believe the closer the relationship between the consumers of food and the farmers themselves, the healthier and happier we will all be.

RELATED POSTS:

Nature Play!
Strawberry Picking 
Gardening with Children (and Scissors!) Builds Fine Motor Skills

 

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 14 with all the carnival links.)