I love the summer. Whether I’m traveling domestically or internationally, the summertime is a win-win for me. I love and appreciate all four seasons, but the summer is truly a favorite (fall, as well) — mainly because of the produce. I appreciate being able to shop abundantly for fresh fruits and vegetables without restriction. As the sun shines, fresh produce becomes vibrant in color and gains vitamins and nutrients along with it.
I also frequent the farmer’s market during the summer months. If I am in the Hamptons on a sunny summer day, I am bound to hit the farmer’s market — and I explore a variety of them, as each is different. It’s the same whenever I am in Los Angeles — I head straight to the farmer’s market. I love it, I love it, I love it. I purchase those items I cannot get from my mini backyard garden, as well as those foods I am unable to get in the fall and winter: berries (their antioxidants are a must and they work great in smoothies), watermelon, summer squashes, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, lemons, oranges, pineapples…
The farmer’s market typically offers local and/or organic produce. Local produce is grown and harvested in close proximity, which means that it is not transported via planes and/or trains. This keeps produce fresher and living during the journey from farm to fridge. Organic essentially means that no chemically-infused sprays are used to keep bugs off the plant. Of course, you can find more than just fruit and veggies at the farmer’s market. You can also find local homemade skin products (soaps), food stands (sometimes bread and pastries are sold), and an abundance of fresh flowers.
Food sold at farmer’s markets is delivered as grown; not tampered with. I never understood why we should have to ‘add’ chemicals to what we put into our bodies anyway. Organic food is completely natural, with no synthetic “shine” added for appearance. It is typically more expensive but is always worth the cost. If you do not have access to organic items, purchase locally.
At the farmers market, you can also get fresh eggs that come straight from the farm. While I do not eat eggs, I do buy them because my family consumes them. In addition, local and grass-fed meats are sometimes available at some farmer’s markets. Grass-fed means exactly what it says: The animal is fed grass rather than other livestock, etc. Remember that whatever the animal is fed, you are fed: If the cow eats grass, then you eat grass… But if the chicken eats poop, then you eat poop! This is why it is in your best interest to consider the labels and practices associated with the food you purchase.
Thus, another great convenience of visiting a farmers market is being able to receive products directly from the actual farm or source. This means that you have the ability to ask questions and get direct answers. You can learn about where your produce originally comes from, how it was grown, etc. Regardless of this transparency, remember to always wash the produce you plan to eat because many people touch it before you do! Especially during the global health crisis that we are currently facing, and knowing that our food items encounter many germs before arriving in our kitchens, be even more mindful to clean your produce thoroughly.
Growing up, I was never really exposed to farmer’s markets, so I admire the young kids at the market with their families on the weekends. I personally think that it’s important to instill this awareness at a young age, but any age is better than nothing. I did not start exploring farmer’s markets until I was married with children, but I wish I had been exposed earlier. Instead, since junior high, flea markets were my go-to spot and some of my favorite finds in our home come from flea markets from around the world.
If you’ve never experienced a farmer’s market, the season for it has arrived. Before the summer is over, look up a few in your area, grab your mask, some gloves, a grocery bag, and hand wipes, and prepare to take an adventure. Challenge yourself to make a new recipe. (I still love this challenge!) Lastly, do not forget to bring cash with you as some vendors only accept cash.
We have put up some recipes to help give you some ideas and to support you as you take your farmer’s market ingredients home to manifest a nice healthy meal. One recipe to possibly consider is Gazpacho soup from Shut Up and Cook! Tomatoes are in season right now and a chilled soup can really hit the spot on a hot summer day. Indulge, explore, be grateful, and enjoy. After all, you are a nécessité.
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