Did you know there is a little oasis of calm just around the corner? You might not think of it as a place to slow down but your local farmers market is the perfect way to downshift your weekend. That is just one of the many benefits of farmers markets. If you keep telling yourself you should go the farmers market this Saturday but never seem to make it there, I have 10 reasons why you should shop at the farmers market this week.
- Think of your local market as a small retreat. If you need to get away for a few minutes, you don’t have to shop for anything. Just get a cup of English Breakfast tea or coffee and people watch. I love to get lost for a few minutes watching the fountains at Farmers Park. The alternating plumes of water can be hypnotizing in the morning sun. (If you need to retreat for a little longer you might want to consider joining me on my next Refill Your Cup weekend.)
- Let the vegetables inspire you. If meal planning is really hard for you, start your day at the farmers market. Stroll around and buy what looks good. Now you have a delicious fresh base on which to build your meal plan. You can go home, order the rest of your list from Hy-vee and have it delivered.
- Make your budget go farther with seasonal produce. When the zucchini and tomatoes are plentiful they can be less expensive than the grocery store. The farmers market also cuts out the middleman, which helps keep prices lower.
- You get to know your farmer! You can learn exactly how the food you’re eating is grown. They may not be able to afford the organic certification but you may find that their methods are actually equal to organic regulations, if not better. You also know the money spent is staying in your community.
- Sometimes you get to try before you buy. More than once I’ve been handed a sample of a new vegetable or a bonus apple of a variety I’ve never tried. The easiest way to expand your horizons is to try whatever the farmer hands you.
- There is more to the farmers market than veggies. You can find all sorts of hidden gems at your farmers market! I’m checking off an item from my 100 Dreams List with a custom made apron from Lewd Linens. (I’m also in love with her journals.) You may find candles, jams, bath products and stationary at your local market.
- Farmers markets provide good food for all. The USDA allows farmers markets to accept SNAP benefits. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps low-income families with food insecurity. At Farmers Market of the Ozarks, those with SNAP benefits can participate in the Double Up program. For every $1 in market tokens they purchase they can receive an additional $1, up to $25, making a limited food budget go a little farther.
- If you have no idea what to do with your produce the market can help. Of course farmers will share their favorite recipes but many markets have their own cooking classes and demonstrations with chefs, dietitians and other food experts. Check out the Facebook page for your local market or their web site to see what special events might be coming up.
- Summer is great but what about winter? Maybe you would prefer to sleep in when the weather turns cooler. I understand. If you go to the market now, you can be first on the list for your favorite farmer’s fall or winter CSA. A CSA membership will guarantee you a share of the harvest that is packed and ready for you to pick up.
- Do you love eggplant, squash and peaches? I can’t speak for the rest of the country but if you do NOW is your time to hit the market. Locally cantaloupe and sweet corn are also in season. Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised to see apples in a few weeks along with sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash.
Springfield is extremely lucky to have three farmers markets: Farmers Market of the Ozarks, Greater Springfield Farmers’ Market and C-Street City Market. Farmers Market of the Ozarks is open Saturdays from 8 to 1 pm and Wednesdays (till September) from 9 to 1 pm. The Greater Springfield Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursday from 8 am to noon till October 31. The C-Street City Market is open every Saturday from 9 am to 2 pm and Thursday nights from 4 pm to 8 pm.
I usually spend my market mornings at Farmers Market of the Ozarks. Please say hi if you see me there!