12 Reasons to Shop Your Local Farmer’s Market this Summer for Fruits and Vegetables
(Big Shout out to Biber Family Farms for the pictures!)
Until you start going around to visit local Farmers Markets and get to talk with some of the local farmers, you really don’t realize just how hard they work.
We all know that farmers work really hard, but in the summer they work turbo-hard.
I have the good fortune to live in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. It’s a beautiful place to live and there’s still a speckling of local farms throughout the area.
Local farms that provide fresh produce all summer long.
In the later summer months, Pittsburgh can have very hot weather with high humidity. Some days it seems like we are living in South Florida.
On the day we visited the Farmers Market in Upper St. Clair, the heat had settled in at about 94 degrees. It was hot. Very hot.
But all the vendors came and set up shop despite the heat, so that residents of the community could have fresh fruits and vegetables for the week.
Farmers don’t have the luxury of climate-controlled environments like we do, they must get out there and produce food no matter what the weather conditions.
In the summer, like most areas in the United States, local farmers get together and sell fresh produce, grass-feed beef, fresh organic fruits, garlic bulbs as big as your head, onions, basically you name it and they sell it fresh.
Farmers Markets can be a lot of fun and a great opportunity to bring out the entire family and get a little friendly with the fruits and vegetables. What a better way to teach children to respect our food supply along with respecting our hard-working farmers.
Make some fun memories with your family and let them smell the fresh fruits and vegetables along with all the other foods the farmers market has to offer. Let your kids pick out a fruit or vegetable to take home and help cook. When a child gets to be involved in the process of buying and cooking, they are much more likely to become vegetable lovers!
(Above Photo) Here Biber Family Farms is explaining to me how to cook the stems of the fresh Swiss Chard I had just purchased. Chop up the red stems and cook them in a small amount of water until tender. Toss them in with your cooked Swiss chard and add a little butter, olive oil and of course salt & pepper.
So here are our 12 top reasons to shop your local farmers market this summer!
1. Support Your Local Farmers
Keep your local farmer going by supporting them at weekly markets. This is something the communities can’t afford to lose, so by showing up and buying we are keeping them in business. Communities and families need nutrient-dense foods in their diets to stay healthy.
2. Fresh Means more Nutritious
Most produce is picked the morning of farmers market making this their peak in freshness. Buying freshly harvested food is important because some vegetables can begin to loose their nutritional values rather quickly.
3. Fresher Tastes Better
Fresh fruits and vegetables that have been allowed to sun ripen have more of a distinct flavor than those that have been sitting in a warehouse for days/weeks. Want a real treat? Look for freshly-picked asparagus.
4. Larger Selection to Choose From
Farmers can pick and choose the variety of fruits and vegetables they want to plant and harvest. Most Markets have 3-4 local farms selling their produce so this makes for a much larger variety of foods to choose from.
5. Cheaper Prices than a Grocery Store
Grocery store produce has gotten very pricey in the last couple of years. Organic produce even pricier! This is a great chance to eat fresh organic produce every week at a much cheaper price.
6. Ask how the Produce is Grown
Talk with the farmer and ask how he grows his fruits and vegetables. Ask what type of pesticides he uses or what method of farming he prefers. A lot of our fresh fruits and vegetables in the grocery store comes directly from Mexico making this difficult to know how it was farmed and what chemicals were used to produce the food.
7. Most Farmers know how to Cook Vegetables
Want to know how to cook Swiss chard? Ask a farmer! Farmers know how to cook vegetables and they know the best way to bring out their natural flavors. Never be afraid to ask a farmer how to prepare a vegetable they are selling.
8. Buying for One is Easy
If you are shopping for one or even two people, most stands are very flexible about the quantities you can buy. It’s very important not to overbuy because that just leads to waste. Most fresh fruits and vegetables last about 2 days to a week so buy accordingly.
9. Visit the Beautiful Country
Make it a point to visit a new farmers market every week and you will find yourself getting to know a little bit about your area. Some of the farmers markets are located out in the country which provides a great excuse to take the day off and go have some fun!
10. A Fun Family Activity
Take the whole family and make it a great time to spend together. Some local markets will even set up small musical bands and make an event out of it. The bigger farmers markets will set family-style picnic tables where you can sit and enjoy food prepared by local vendors.
11. Meet the Farmers and Give Incentive to Grow
By supporting your local farmers markets, this gives you a chance to meet and greet your farmers. Let them know that you appreciate the fresh supply of food that they supply. Positive feedback from the community provides the opportunity for the farmers to grow their business and to also understand the needs/wants of the people they are supporting.
12. Get Excited about Fruits and Vegetables
Learn how to cook farmer market meals! Experiment with new and exciting dishes that you never cooked before. Each week during the summer, have a farmers market dinner prepared from foods that you found at the market.
* Here is my old fashioned blueberry crisp that was made from fresh farmer market blueberries and it was delicious.
Find your Farmers’ Market in the South Hills of Pittsburgh –