A lot has changed in the past 3 years. The Farmers' Market has grown and so has my appreciation for local food. When I first started going to the Farmers' Market... it was more for leisure. Pick up a few things here... add them to what I had already purchased from the store. My trips to the Market always revolved around my trips to the grocery store. Today, I'm a different kind of shopper. I realized this about three months ago when I went into my big chain grocery store and the produce people said to me,
"Hey! Where have you been! We thought you moved."
You see, I used to go to the grocery store a couple of times a week. It always felt like an episode of "Cheers" when I would go there... true they didn't know my "name"... but they did know all of my preferences and my kids (they'd always tell me how much my kids have grown... they remember when my 4 year old was a baby and they'd always be quick to ask where my kids were when I was traveling solo ;)). True, I really enjoy the people that work at Harris Teeter.
BUT... sorry, Harris Teeter....I like LOCAL food better.
So now, I plan for Wednesdays (and sometimes Saturdays). The grocery store is last resort because I like knowing that the food I'm buying is supporting my community. I like knowing the farmer. I like knowing that my food didn't travel thousands of miles. And...I LOVE getting the freshest foods possible. True, I'm becoming somewhat of a Locavore. When we were on vacation in California we even hit up a Farmers' Market.
While my local Market doesn't really compare to the variety in California, I'm still able to eat a primarily locavore diet for most of the year. In fact, our dinner tonight was comprised 100% of foods that I purchased at the Farmers' Market. What was for dinner? Crab Cakes, Green Beans, and Roasted Potatoes with some blueberries, and some of Angela's Pickles on the side.
But my Farmers' Market isn't just about food. Nope, sure isn't. For as long as I've been going to the Farmers' Markets, I've supplemented my homemade Christmas gifts with goods from the Market. Lotions, soaps, handmade glass jewelry, candles... and non-perishables such as honey, jams, teas, and pickled peppers... they've all found their way to family, teachers, and friends. Last winter, I passed on buying a scarf at J. Crew and instead bought one at the Farmers' Market that was handmade locally (no tag because it's not "Made in China"). It feels good supporting the local economy and keeping my $$ in my community.
SO... what else do I dig about Farmers' Markets? The experience that my kids have every time we go. My kids get to be actively involved in the shopping. I can easily send my kids to pick out and purchase food without me being right on top of them. The farmers/vendors are always happy to help them :) They also get to take in the sights and smells of the market. No processed foods. Sure there are people selling cookies and other baked confections that kids go crazy for, but they don't win over the color and smell of in-season fruits and veggies.
Seriously LOVE everything about Farmers' Markets.
SO... do you LOVE your Farmers' Market?? Last night, I voted for my Farmers' Markets in the American Farmland Trust's Favorite Farmers Market Contest. So vote for yours... :)