August 23, 2019
By: Holistic Health Coach and Shop Good Lead Buyer, Juana Diez
Let’s be real — Farmers markets are kind of our happy place. There’s just something about strolling through the endless rows of vibrant produce, straw tote in hand, dreaming up of all the fresh summer recipes we can create in our kitchen. We’re really feeling the #plantpower vibes this month… you?!
During the summer season, the markets come to life on a different level… spilling with sweet stone fruit, massive heirloom tomatoes, and greens to die for. But, the best part is the opportunity these markets present us year round — to reconnect with our food and interact with our local community.
Whether you’re a rookie or a regular, we’re sharing the reasons you should be hitting up your local Farmers Market, every week and our pro tips to make the most of your visit.
First things, first…
Really. Why shop a Farmers Market?
- Supports local family farms: It’s really refreshing to know that your dollars will support local growers or food entrepreneurs. Industrialized farming has become the norm, which has sadly driven local family farms out of business. Buying directly from these smaller farms gives them a better return for their produce.. and more importantly, a fighting chance against giant factory farms!
- You’ll save money (do the math!): Farmers markets are a *v* affordable option because there’s no grocery store middleman who needs to up-charge due to on travel costs or fancy packaging for that juicy carton of blueberries. This helps keep prices lower!
- Produce is extra full of nutrients: Most of the time, this produce was just plucked from the Earth! The food hasn’t traveled far to get in your hands and you’ll be able to savor the produce at the peak of its freshness! No long distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process and no sitting for weeks in storage – fresh from the farm, in every way.
- Enjoy the season: Produce at the farmers market is always in season, which allows us to reconnect with the cycles of nature where we live. Some nutritionists and scientists suggest eating seasonally is also better for our bodies – lighter foods in the spring and summer, and heartier, more grounding winter vegetables provide sustenance for the colder months. Hmm, maybe this is why we’re craving a peach right about now!
- Food tastes better: Don’t take our word for it, try it for yourself! Buy a tomato from the grocery and a heirloom from your local farmer’s market. Taste them side-by-side, and see if you pick up on any differences. Spoiler alert: you will probably notice a difference in flavor, texture, and even color.
- Better for the environment: Industrial farms favor monocultures, where a single field only grows one type of fruit or veg. While efficient and more cost effective, this farming practice depletes the soil of essential nutrients, leaving it barren and more susceptive to disease + pests. Industrial farming is much more wearing on the land, utilizes practices that are unfriendly for the environment and not sustainable long-term.
- Knowing where our food comes from: Buying directly from the farmer means we, as consumers, have the opportunity to ask questions about how and where the food on our plates is produced. Learn all about the farm’s growing and processing practices… how cool and empowering is that?
- Connect with your community: Farmers markets are a great place to gather and meet members of your community. Some even offer additional entertainment and classes, making it the perfect place to spend a summer morning or afternoon with loved ones.
Okay, we are ready to hit the food stalls, now! You too?
But what should we know to get the most out of our trips?
- Plan to be there at the bookends of the day: Most markets usually open around 9 AM and get busier as the day goes on. Being the early bird helps to avoid the crowds (better for that Instagram snap of those gorgeous greens!) and means you’ll get the first pick of the crop. Going later on in the day may mean missing out on those crisp green beans you hoped to snag for dinner, but farmers will typically drop their prices to ensure they go home with less, keeping more cash in your pocket and more produce in your Shop Good tote bag!
- Bring cash: specifically small bills. More and more vendors are beginning to take credit and debit cards as a form of payment, but a lot are still cash-only. You don’t want to miss out!
- Ask questions – yup, we’ll say it again – get to know your local vendors. You can ask questions about growing practices, factors affecting their harvest, and different varieties you may have not tried before. Many are even eager to share recipe ideas, which will all help in choosing your favorites and building a strong connection to the food on your plate!
- Don’t commit to the first vendor you see: Do a lap! Stay curious and take it all in before beginning to purchase. Create a mental list of items on your wish list, compare prices, and allocate your budget accordingly. Most growers will even let you sample their products if you ask, that way you really know what you’re getting, and enjoy a pre-lunch snack too.
- BYOB…bag, that is ;): though some vendors do have plastic or compostable bags available, why not sport your own? You’ll reduce your carbon footprint and also won’t break a sweat as you attempt to load up on the best citrus deal in town. We think our favorite Shop Good summer tote is the statement of the season! Psst – have you snagged one yet? We’re gifting them with all purchases of $150+!
- Treat yourself – There’s nothing I love more than treating myself to a bundle of beautiful wildflowers to freshen up my home on a Sunday morning. Or, check out the local honeys, vegan baked goods, and other artisanal goods that speak to you. They may be a bit pricey, but are truly such a special treat.
- Wash well – When you get home, make sure to spend some time washing the items you purchased. Since they’re as fresh as possible, they may be home to a little more critters or dirt than usual. So fresh and so organic! We like to dilute a food-grade hydrogen peroxide into a big bowl of water and soak for 5 minutes or so, followed by a good rinse with filtered water.
Farmers Market 101? Check! And just in time for the weekend, babes. Check your local listings for Farmer’s Markets in your area and their days of the week. For our fellow San-Diegans, we feel#blessed with our climate and abundance of fresh, local produce year round, which means farmers market options every day of the week! We’ve done the work for you! Here’s your San Diego Market Guide!
Monday: Escondido / 3-7PM
Tuesday: Pacific Beach / 2-7PM
Wednesday: Ocean Beach / 4-7PM (4-8PM Summer)
Thursday: North Park / 3-7:30PM
Friday: Mission Valley / 3-7 PM (April to January)
Saturday:Little Italy / 8AM-2PM
Sunday: Hillcrest / 9AM-2PM + Leucadia / 10AM-2PM + La Jolla / 9AM-2PM
See a full list of local markets here! And see you out there at the markets this weekend, Shop Good Fam! We’re celebrating the power of plants this month, and all year long.
There really is no better time than the sunny summer months to begin a new routine of weekly market visits and truly embrace the #PLANTPOWER they have to offer. We’d love to hear from you… what are your favorite farmers market tips? Share in the comments below!