For the first time in a long time, today I hit the local Farmer's Market...and boy was it hot. Why I was finally inspired on a day that our local thermometer read 103 degrees here in upstate NY, I don't know, but I'm glad I went. I got everything pictured above (+1 runaway zucchini that I cannot find) for $7! Fresh and locally grown.
Here's the breakdown:
4 cucumbers @ 50 cents each
2 zucchini @ 2/$1.00 (and they were some big zucchini)
2 yellow squash @ 2/$1.00
6 ears of corn @ $3.00
Yes, I know I could have purchased cucumbers at Walmart for just 50 cents each....but see I went there to do my regular shopping after I left the Farmer's Market and the cucumbers there were much smaller in size. The zucchini and yellow squash in our area has not dropped below $1.99/pound and I know that one of those zucchinis alone is over a pound and I only paid 50 cents for it! We are grilled vegetable fiends here in the summer so believe me, it will get used!
Here are just a few good reasons for shopping at local Farmer's Markets:
*One government study estimates that our produce travels 1300 miles before it hits our local supermarket shelves. Shortly after produce is picked, it starts to lose moisture and nutrients and begins to decay. (Probably why grape tomatoes and peas eaten right off the vine taste SO MUCH better than store bought).
*In an attempt to keep fruits and veggies looking fresher as they travel to you, stores use wax to seal in moisture. That wax holds dangerous chemicals that we should not be ingesting. Unless you scrub or peel that produce (most evident in peppers and apples), you are ingesting icky stuff and if you do peel or scrub, you are losing more nutrients...there's a lose/lose situation.
*Fruits and Veggies grown locally are in season. They are often picked withing 24 hours of coming to market, sometimes within a few hours.
*Shopping at local farmer's markets allows you to ask the farmer's questions about their produce. Often, you'll find lots of organically grown at the Farmer's Market. Sometimes small, local farms cannot afford to be organically certified though they do follow organic practices. Also, since local farmers usually live on their surrounding land, they are more interested in keeping the land clean, healthy and safe (unlike some corporate farmers who don't care if they pollute the land with pesticides and chemicals). If you don't see a sign stating the farm is organically certified, just ask. The farmers are often happy to talk to you.
*Variety, variety, variety! Today I saw a basket of cousa. It's a Mediterranean type of zucchini, the woman told me, with a stronger flavor. It looked like a little ball of zucchini. I think I'm going to try some for my next trip. My mom swears by the purple and yellow carrots you can buy there. I've never seen purple carrots at my local grocery store, have you?
*Supporting the local economy is never a bad thing!