January 30, 2006
First of all, shopping at a farmer's market is fun. You're talking to the folk who grew the stuff and odds are high that less than 24 hours prior to your purchase it was still on the vine, in the ground, etc. Some of the stuff isn't as shapely or magazine-cover perfect as what you find in the grocery - but that's part of the fun, too. There's something so authentic about a turnip bearing a striking resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock's profile. (This also may help the kids eat the turnip.)
Second, it's tasty. This stuff is fresh - and cooks up well. I still remember the corn from that market over off of IH35South. And the big, fat tomatoes from the truck parked at the market next to the Archery, off McCullough Avenue. The melons!
Third, it's somewhat cheaper - but I find that is less true of the markets inside the city limits than the ones closer to the county line. Buying in big batches is better on the pocketbook, if you can gather a group to share.
How to find your local market? The USDA has a site that gives you a list of markets in your area, for example there is a USDA site for Texas where various counties and cities are listed, with links to the registered markets in the area. The USDA also provides lots of other information: for instance, there is a new Seniors' Farmers Market Nutrition Program where Seniors get coupons to use at the FM.
Life is good on a Saturday when you take a drive on a sunny morning, good music and maybe a glass of tea in the cupholder, tour the Market, chatting with the farmer folk, and then come home, finding recipes to match your finds, and then fill the house with good smells. The meal's always good. Always.
To me, it's one of the best examples of what simple living means - an abundance to be experienced in order to be appreciated. Go find your market - Spring is coming soon.