It can be easy to eat on autopilot – going to the store and getting the same things each week, ordering from the same restaurants, etc. Our food doesn’t always get much of our thought. There are seasons when this disconnectedness can be fine, but I always find it refreshing to get in touch with my food, to think about where it comes from. A local Farmers’ Market can be a great way to add in some mindfulness to your shopping and eating.
Here are some of my favorite reasons to go check out your local Farmers’ Market.
Learn the seasons
I love embracing the differences that come with each season. The change in weather is something we can’t miss and we all know to dress differently and feel compelled to spend more or less time outside as the weather changes. But, as the seasons change, does your food change? Eating with the changing seasons can be a good way to add variety to life. When you get your produce at a Farmers’ Market it is a great way to get in touch with the seasons and learn exactly when each of the items are at peak season and at their best. It can build a fun anticipation as you see the first sight of a food you haven’t seen in a while. Then, week by week, you see more and more of it offered and you know it’s really coming in to season. When it’s in peak season you savor it and enjoy it while you can. Then as you slowly see less and less of it, you can start peaking around for what your next seasonal favorite can be.
When we eat foods that are grown and produced locally we are getting fresher foods. When foods don’t have to travel that far to get to us they can be picked closer to full ripeness which helps us to enjoy more flavorful foods. Freshly picked produce can also have more of its vitamins in tact. There are also the benefits of supporting local businesses and having food requires less transport to get to us (and in turns requires less emissions of green house gasses!).
Eat a variety of produce
When I was a new dietitian, (young and with a very small weekly food budget), I realized that I was pretty much just eating one vegetable – frozen broccoli. Frozen broccoli is something I’d grown up with and enjoyed, and it’s a fine choice, but I realized I was missing out on the vast world of vegetables that are out there. I was fortunate enough to be living walking distance from a great Farmers’ Market (Grand Lake in Oakland!) at that time and I made a pact with myself to go to the Farmers’ Market weekly and to try a new vegetable each week. It was a fun, tasty, and nutritious challenge to myself. That was when my love of Farmers’ Markets was born.
Eating a wide variety of fresh foods is a fantastic thing to do for your health, as well as your enjoyment of food. Perhaps you’ll want to give yourself your own Farmers’ Market challenge.
Love the less than perfect
The Farmers’ Market is a great time to learn to embrace the less than prefect produce that is out there. When we decide to be ok with misshapen produce, or ones with scars or other harmless blemishes, we are helping the farmers and the earth. Food waste is a large problem around the world, and it is a significant contributor to greenhouse gasses. We can help reduce food waste at home by not buying more than we will reasonably use. We can also help the farmers reduce their waste by being open to the less than perfect produce.
Get to know your farmer
While what we eat can play a role in our health, so can so many other things. A feeling of social connectedness and feeling like a part of a community can do wonders for health. So while you’re at the Farmers’ Market be sure to stop and talk. Ask a question about the produce. Make it a habit to buy from the same stalls for a few weeks, and get to know the farmers.
For those in the Bay Area, here are 2 links listing some of our local Farmers’ Markets. Look you area up and give one a try!