A rainbow is what you will see when you visit the local farmer’s market!
Some city dwellers are fortunate enough to be able to go to a farm fresh market every week while the rest of us have to wait for the peak of the summer when the crops begin to produce.
Some produce comes to market in the spring, like luscious strawberries we can pick in April and May, giving us a glimpse into what awaits us in the coming months.
We can take advantage of the rainbow this summer (or perhaps all year round, if you are lucky) so that we can make the absolute most of the ripeness and affordable prices starting now.
Plan Your Menu for In-Season Produce
Unlike your regular supermarket, where you can expect to find the same food – fresh, frozen, or canned — every time you visit, the farmer’s market always gives you a surprise.
There is no guarantee the same produce or other foods will be there each time you visit.
Foods that appear at the fresh market depend on what is ripe for the picking or hand made that particular week. They may not be there next time, which is why it is important to buy it when you see it.
The last time I went, it was raining and very few vendors even showed up to sell their food. Sadly, I left without buying anything.
What that means is you have to remain very flexible when you shop at the farmer’s market and be ready and willing to get what is fresh without overindulging. Buy what you will use so that it doesn’t go to waste, costing you more money in the long run.
Tips for Enjoying the Market and Its Bounty
Preparing meals using a wide selection of available fresh fruits and vegetables, finding locally produced honey, picking fresh flowers for the table, and finding many other tempting products are indeed benefits of visiting a farmer’s market.
You can get the freshest, most unique and delicious produce for your weekly meals at the farmer’s market.
Planning ahead for how much and what kinds of things you might buy is great, but staying flexible will make it easier to succeed with your plan of preparing the most nutritious meals for yourself and your family.
- Instead of going with an idea of what each day will be, you can wait until you see all the goodies and then make your menu for the week. The farmer’s market will certainly get your creative juices flowing.
- Create a menu with all parts completed, except for the vegetable and fruit portions. Fill that in as you shop.
- Be flexible with what might work into your week’s menus, depending on the cost of the produce. Some weeks’ specials may not be what you were anticipating as in-season choices. Getting a good buy may depend on what turns out to be excess crops in the fields and not just what is in-season at the moment.
- If you have your heart set on a particular family favorite recipe but the ingredient isn’t available, try a creative substitute with something from the rainbow you do have. For example, if you want to make a super soup that uses kale but all you have is bok choy, try something new! You might love the results. Look at these beautiful bok choy varieties I found!
- Look for new things with which you are unfamiliar and create something or try a new recipe. The real wonder at farmer’s markets is the new and different things you will find. Heirloom produce or special varieties that might never be found in your neighborhood supermarket can be a real flavor treat and learning experience for the whole family. Involve the kids in the treasure hunt for new produce. Ever have jicama in your salad? Yum!
- Keep your eyes peeled for things that you might not be expecting, such as willow branches, goat cheese, moonshine jelly (made from white grapes), or other fun things not found in your local supermarket.
- Bring the family and make it a fun outing. Many farmer’s markets have a festival type atmosphere where you can enjoy live music or meet new friends, including the farmers themselves who can tell you about their farms and growing practices, or see chefs prepare their special dishes using produce fresh from the farm.
Buying locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as products from the farmer, incorporating the rainbow into your weekly meals and taking advantage of the abundant nutrients in the fresh foods is an experience that is hard to match.
And, it is just plain fun for the whole family enjoying a day outdoors together!
We would love you to share you favorite produce recipes with everyone to use after our next trip to farmer’s market!