Every Saturday morning from April to October you can find me (and most times my family) at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market, where ALL of the produce is local. It is my all-time favorite weekend activity to do with my family , but if we all can’t make it I swing by and get the tastiest, healthiest produce available - and it’s mostly chemical and pesticide free. There is only one farmer at the market who is certified organic. To become certified organic is a lengthy and expensive process, so the majority of the farmers are not, although from talking to them about their farming methods, I would guess that 95% of the produce at the market is chemical-free.
As my favorite farmer Sarah Buila said in an interview,
“I know that what I give them (kids) doesn’t have any chemicals on it. It was grown with respect for the environment, and it tastes better than what you can find at the grocery store.”
And that is why I shop at the farmers’ market whenever possible for myself and my family, especially my small children who are more susceptible to the damaging effects of chemicals and pesticides in and on our foods.
You do pay a bit more than you would at the grocery store, but to me it’s totally worth it because when produce doesn’t travel across the country or across countries, it retains most of its nutrients. Produce coming from Mexico, Chile, or from across the country will lose a significant amount of the vitamins and minerals that are a big reason we eat fruits and vegetables in the first place. You also don’t need to worry about E. coli or salmonella poisoning (as in the recent cantelope recall) if you get your melons from a local farmer who uses organic farming practices.
Buyer beware: If you're shopping at a market in St. Louis, for example, and you see a vendor with bananas or pineapples, make sure you ask if any of their produce is local. To me, the purpose of going to a farmers' market is to get local food, but I know of several markets with vendors who don't sell anything local. Just make sure to ask questions about where it was grown, and if they use any chemicals.
Buying local also minimizes our carbon footprint. I have a vague idea of that term, but what I do know is that it’s coming from 30 - 100 miles away, rather than hundreds, so it takes a fraction of the fuel to transport my local veggies than it does to transport conventionally grown produce from far away.
Something else that’s important to all of us is TASTE! Right?! Locally grown produce really does taste better. Try it, you’ll like it.
Besides produce there are tons of other local vendors that offer the following- breads and pastries, locally roasted coffee, tea, grilled cheese stand, sausages and hotdogs, chicken, beef, pork, eggs, goat cheese, cheese, honey, cupcakes, popsicles, clothing, jewelry, bags, purses, soaps, cleaning products, and more! It’s a wonder I’m not totally broke the months the market is open. I have to tell myself to just walk away all the time! I try to stick to what’s most important - the food.
Look at what I brought home last weekend. This makes me happy :)
There is so much to discover at your local farmers market. And don’t be afraid to ask the farmers questions. The people selling are usually the farmers themselves and I’ve found that they’re passionate about what they do. You’ll learn about what you’re buying, and you might even form relationships with them, which is fun and rewarding. It’s always nice to make connections with people, don’t you think?
Look for a farmers market near you atwww.localharvest.org.
I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do!