There are many benefits in attending a farmers market, but I'll highlight my top 10 favorite reasons.
- Fresh, fresh, fresh! Produce has been recently picked so the nutrients are more concentrated, not having been on a truck for any length of time. Fruits and vegetables are picked ripe (or closer to ripe), and farmers take great pride in pleasing customers.
- Save money! Usually prices at a farmers market are lower than at the grocery store. You can often buy in bulk if you want to can, freeze, make jam or buy large quantities for a family reunion.
- Markets have a wide variety. There are so many unique and unusual fruits and vegetables to choose from. I recently bought a white cucumber, yellow beets, and purple tomatoes.
- Foods from farmers markets are healthier. Many farmers are returning to heirloom varieties of vegetables and fruits, which means the seeds are from plants before hybridization began. Usually minimal, less toxic pesticides are used, if at all, and you can talk directly to someone from the farm to ask specific questions.
- Vendors share their passion with us. Those who market their goods are usually doing something they love and are excited to explain their methods, processes and experiences. Recently, I had a fascinating conversation with a bee keeper who was selling various honey flavors.
- Vendors are willing to offer recipes and uses for their products. I had never tried making okra. Now that I am in the south, I thought I should learn. The vendor selling the okra was very helpful and gave me a few recipes and ideas for using it. They turned out great!
- Support local business. In a country where so many jobs are outsourced to other parts of the world, it is nice to know we are directly benefiting others in our community. This is the ultimate "Made in the USA". You are supporting those who are maintaining the land in your area, keeping current with a craft or offering serves to the community.
- Meet the neighbors! We spend too much time going from office to car to house to TV to bed ... and most of us don't even know our neighbors. Being in a new town, I have found attending farmers markets to be a great way to meet other health conscious people and to learn about the area. People love to help the "new girl in town".
- Farmers markets are full of surprises. You never know what you will find at a farmers market. At a recent market I learned about microgreens and how they are grown; I learned about various fish from this area (tried and loved Trigger fish), and I tasted several different flavors of kombucha. Yum!
- Beauty all around! Farmers markets are full of beautiful sights, smells, textures and tastes. Every sense is heightened and the positive energy is empowering. From the color and fragrance of flowers to the sweetness of ripened peaches, there are delights on every table.
The Eastern Shore of Alabama seems to have a Farmers Market in almost every town. I have personally visited the Farmers Market in Daphne and Foley and am looking forward to visiting others soon. Pensacola has a farmers market with approximately 100 vendors so I'd love to visit that market in the near future.
The Foley farmers market was a bit larger with teas, sprouts, herbs, fresh produce, jewelry, candy, pies, fresh seafood, crafted items and more. Vendors may vary slightly from week to week, but there are some merchants that you can count on come rain or shine.
What farmers markets have you attended in your area? What are your favorite finds?