How often do you get a text from your farmer to say that one of their Jersey milk cows was about to calf? And their blueberries are almost ready for picking? My farmer friend, Denise, sends me texts regularly to keep me posted on what’s going on at my favorite farm in North Georgia (you might have read my post about our time working on the farm last June). My husband and I are planning to go up in a few Saturdays and pick those delicious, antioxidant-filled blueberries and to see the healthy new calf.
Summer is a good time to support local farmers and your local farmers’ markets.
And I want to share a few reasons why.
First, natural or organic foods are better for you and they taste better. They don’t have harmful pesticides or chemicals. Natural foods are better for your family and the environment. Environmental Working Group has done lots of research on this issue. Check out their Dirty Dozen list of the 12 fruits and vegetables with the potential for the highest pesticide and chemical contamination. And if you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer and are going through treatments, you definitely want to make sure your food is clean.
Fruits and vegetables also taste so much better when bought in season. You know those tomatoes from Mexico you get at the grocery store in January? They don’t really taste much like a tomato, do they? Tomatoes are naturally ripe in the summer time, and there’s nothing tastier than a juicy tomato. They’re so good, you can eat them out of hand. Buy a lot and can some for the winter – did you hear that canning’s back in fashion?
To help us buy in season, we refer to the Harvest Calendar from Georgia Organics. We use this chart to choose what we’ll likely see at the market that weekend and build our weekly menus around those foods. You can easily find a chart online for what’s in season in your area, too.
Second, shopping locally helps support local farmers and the local economy. Local farmers have to compete against giant, industrial food distributers, and local farmers’ markets are one of the best tools they have. Buying local supports local farmers and keeps you from buying foods shipped from across the country or across the globe. That’s better for the local economy and the environment.
Finally, visiting local farmers’ markets gives you a chance to really get to know the farmers. We met Denise, her husband Mike, and their children a few summers ago. Since then, they have become our good friends. We visit them as often as we can, not just to buy vegetables, fruit, meat, and eggs, but also to just hang out. We have also gotten to know many other farmers and local merchants at our farmers’ market. Most local farmers love to have customers visit their farms, and this gives you a chance to see where your food is actually coming from.
The farmers’ market movement is growing every year. If you don’t know where your local farmers’ markets are, LocalHarvest has a searchable list on their website. I hope you will go visit a farmers’ market—get to know your food and your farmer. You’ll get tastier and healthier food, and you just might make a new friend.
We’re always looking for delicious summer recipes using in season, local foods like the Blueberry Ricotta Tart (get recipe here). Do you have a Farmers’ Market recipe you’d like to share? Post the recipe or a link here and we’ll share it with others!