Today I went to a brand spanking new Farmers Market that is actually near my home! Yipee!
I am a long term Farmers Market shopper and every Saturday morning I go and eat breakfast with my darling mum and dad (I love catching up with them like this every week) as well as get beautiful fresh local produce. Do I save money? I think so, but what value do you put on being able to talk to the farmers themselves about when produce was picked and about their farming methods.
So I am becoming a bit Sheldon Cooperish (Big Bang Theory fans will know what I mean) about my food consumption and the way it has been grown and prepared.
Here are my top tips for shopping at a farmers market
1. Look for the stalls that have only a small variety of produce available. This means that they are more likely to have some connection to the produce.
2. Talk to the stall vendors. Ask where the items are from and when they were picked. To my delight today I found out that one of the stall holders in this new market (The Kuraby Farmer’s Market) grows just near my work (Jimboomba) and has a beautiful little girl that goes to our school’s Kindy. I see her every fortnight as her Teacher Librarian. I love having some connection to the food we eat so I shall definitely be buying from them in the future. I now know that those items don’t have many food miles in them and as they are freshly picked in the last week perfectly suitable for my body as I aim to eat only seasonal food. I am a bit sceptical about eating supermarket food as it had probably travelled long distances, been gassed or in storage for a long while- you’ve seen the reports on the evening current affairs shows.
Ask about the sprays used on their farms. One of the stall holders explained that they only use garlic spray on their farm and therefore do not need to use the chemicals I am trying to avoid.
3. Don’t be afraid of less that perfect looking foods. I love to buy apples that are unwaxed, bananas that are ungassed, and veges that still have fresh dirt on them. Blemishes are a part of life and even though we all like to look at perfection, I have found that less than perfect tastes better.
4. Look at stalks stems and leaves. You can tell how fresh an item is by the cut marks, stalk ends and any leaves on the items. Just imagine how they should look it they are freshly picked and aim for as close to that as you can get.
5. Be prepared that this food may not last as long as supermarket food. Remember often these foods are unwaxed and ungassed so they don’t have the longevity that these processes are designed to create. Unnatural longevity I think. Food should spoil, it is the way things are. I am very wary of any foods that last forever. Also by being fresh and active food it has intelligence that our bodies can use.
6. Learn how to store the produce correctly. If you are not sure ask at the stall. I have been told this morning that the apples (picked last week) will not last for weeks- fine by me- and I should keep them in the crisper, the tomatoes should be stored on the bench. I know that I can buy unripe avocados and put them next to my ripening bananas and they will be good in a few days and that delicate greens will wilt with more air so keep them as airtight as possible.
7. Markets are usually cash only so take enough money. Some markets have those teller machines on trailers but if you want to save some dosh- go prepared. Confession: Although 48 years of age I am often unprepared and need to take out funds from the Bank of Dad. It is a great institution but quite exclusive.
8. Take something to carry your purchases in. I went to my first few markets quite unprepared and my arms nearly dropped off. My lovely dad was our bag man for a while wheeling one of those collapsible boxes around for us but now I have graduated to a true bag lady and have my own trolley-bag on wheels. Even still I usually don’t fit everything I buy and need to put some in dad’s box-on-wheels or hang bags from my trolley.
9. Take your time and enjoy the atmosphere. We always stop for organic coffee and one of our favourite breakfast meals- omelettes, organic beef sausage on a stick, Indian or Potato Rostie with Poached Eggs and Hollandaise Sauce.
10. Find out where your local Farmers markets are and try them all. You will soon get your favourites. If you live on the Southside of Brisbane QLD you might like my favourite markets – Kuraby Farmers Markets (opened today and already a fav) in the carpark at the Kuraby Train Station, Jan Powers New Farm (held every 2nd & 4th Saturday near the Powerhouse at New Farm Park, West End Markets (every Saturday in the park along the river) and if you miss all of these Boggo Rd Farmers Markets on every Sundays outside the Old Boggo Road Jail walls.
All photographs are taken today by my lovely hubby Ric. If you would like to see more of his work go to 365 Project.