Most of you know this is my favorite time of year because…our farmers’ markets are open again! I feel like its Christmas in the Napa valley four times a week. The bounty of produce is just beginning to bloom, but there are already so many marvelous gems ripe for the picking. Fresh greens, luscious apricots and cherries, and herbs to cultivate in our own gardens.
- We are getting our food direct from the source. You can ask your local farmer everything about your food: how it was grown, handled, transported and suggested recipes.
- Easy money. When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive. And often times if you go towards closing time, you might be able to negotiate an even better price.
- It’s as fresh as you will find. Usually picked that morning. You can’t say that about store bought produce.
- Fresh equals flavor. If not as important as cost, flavor is king. Have you noticed the difference between a fresh strawberry and one from your supermarket. ‘Nuff said.
- Fresh also equals nutrients. Through shipping and handling, foods lose moisture when they are held. Newly harvested fruits and vegetables maintain their flavor and nutrients, not to mention possible irradiation to kill germs in transit (but I will:)
- Variety all year long. Through farmers’ markets we are supporting biodiversity and small businesses. There are plenty of massive farms in the midwest which pump out bundles of wheat, soy and corn. But remember, our bodies need everything, all of the time.” And that means a variety of food types based on the seasons.
- What happens local, stays local. That means our dollars are invested in our local communities and businesses.
- It’s social. Half of the reason I love the experience of shopping at my farmers markets is to catch up with friends in the great outdoors musing over fresh food. It can often times be a one-stop-shop, from produce and plants, to fresh fish and cheese.
To learn more about the sources of your food, check out Food Routes.
To find out what’s in season in your area, go to Local Harvest for a listing of farmers markets throughout the country.