5 Reasons To Visit Farmers’ Markets

It’s been said that there are two types of people: early birds and night owls. I’m an early bird. Unless I have to get up super-early, like, 4 am, I don’t need to set an alarm; my internal body-clock wakes me up most mornings between 6 am and 7 am.

In my area, there’s a farmer’s market, St. Jacob’s Farmers’ Market & Flea Market, that’s open Thursdays and Saturdays year round, and also Tuesdays during the summer.

there’s more than just fruits and veggies at the market!
this pretzel (you can also get the sweet version, which is coated in cinnamon sugar) is the size of my head!

Tuesday and Thursday mornings I’m out for my hour-to-two-hour walks. I give my body a two day rest period over the weekend, but I still get up at my normal time, and I still want to get my body moving, so my market days have become Saturday mornings.

The market opens at 7 am on Saturdays; I like to get there around 7:30 – 8:00 am because I feel like by then all the vendors should be set up, I can easily find a good parking spot, and I don’t have to fight the crowds.

This past Saturday morning it was very gloomy outside, and I was tempted to crawl back into bed to snuggle with my furbabies, but I told myself that the market would likely be even less busy due to the rain, so I got my butt in gear and headed over to the market. It did not disappoint. Which leads me to today’s topic….5 Reasons To Visit Farmers’ Markets.

(I’m trying a new format today….counting down reasons, from 5 to 1, instead of how I’ve always done it previously, from 1 to 5….let me know in the Comments section, which format you like better)

5. If you’re new to the area, or visiting, a great way to learn about the area is by visiting the local farmer’s market.

One of my favourite markets was in Sao Miguel, Azores. The produce there was locally grown, organic, no GMO’s, so vibrant and hard to resist buying everything. I didn’t actually buy anything as I was there on a business trip, but it was very tempting to buy at least one pineapple.

Side note….when you travel to the Caribbean, pretty much any island you stay on, if you talk to the locals, they’ll tell you that their pineapples are the sweetest in the world. They ARE sweet….but I can tell you first hand, the pineapples in the Azores ARE the sweetest I’ve ever tasted (and I’ve been to MANY Caribbean islands).

seriously THE SWEETEST pineapples on the planet

My other favourite market was in Cusco, Peru. It is a MASSIVE indoor and outdoor market and I could easily have spent all day there.

Travel-tip: if you’re in a foreign country and decide to visit one of the local farmers’ markets, beware of what you will see, and smell. Whilst in Peru, I was vegan….so seeing freshly slaughtered animals dangling in the market made my stomach turn…..I quickly made my way to the flower stalls.

4. Farmers’ markets are great places to meet up with friends.

Up until just recently, we here in Waterloo, Ontario were under a government imposed “lock down” of sorts in that we were in Stage 2 of 3 for reopening….so meeting up with people wasn’t something that was encouraged.

“In order to enter Step Three of the Roadmap, Ontario needed to have vaccinated 70 to 80 per cent of individuals 18 years of age or older with one dose and 25 per cent with two doses for at least two weeks, ensuring a stronger level of protection against COVID-19.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Ontario’s health care partners, as of July 8, 2021, over 77 per cent of the population in Ontario ages 12 and over have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and over 50 per cent have received their second dose. More than 16.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered province wide.

Step Three of the Roadmap focuses on the resumption of additional indoor services with larger numbers of people and restrictions in place. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 100 people with limited exceptions….”

So now we can meet at the market, maybe have a bite to eat of something delicious, catch-up over coffee, and feel that human connection again; a connection that’s been long over-due due to COVID.

3. Seeing the face of the farmer is humbling.

Well, it’s humbling for me, anyway. When you go to the supermarket, with your grocery list in hand, you likely have a mental picture of the lay-out of the store and you know which aisles you need to go to to get what’s on your list. You might also just mechanically and habitually reach for the same products that you always buy.

But when you go to a farmers’ market, their products change, based on the season. I think about how stressful it must be for the farmers, not knowing what the weather will be like for that harvest. I think about the backbreaking work involved in planting, irrigating, harvesting, and getting that produce to market, before it goes bad.

So I don’t take a list to the farmers’ market. I DO know ahead of time what I would like to get, and I get those things, but I also leave room in my grocery budget for “market finds”…..I might see something that just looks so fresh and delicious that I can’t resist buying it….like the basket of pickling cucumbers (which I don’t pickle, I eat them raw with a bit of salt and freshly grated black pepper) at Voisin’s stand.

2. Pricing isn’t always lower at the farmers’ market, and that’s OK with me.

There are many factors that affect pricing, which I won’t go into here, but one of the factors to consider is this: do you want quality or do you want quantity?

I would rather pay slightly more for something that’s better quality, healthier for my body, and which I know is contributing to the local economy, versus buying produce that was harvested in Mexico, then spent days in transport to reach Ontario, before it was set out for purchase. Much of that produce is picked when it’s unripened; it ripens in transit.

For example, as an artist, I create one of a kind pieces of artwork (wall art and wearable art). As a consumer, I can walk into any big-box store and buy a print for my wall, or a piece of clothing, which is likely made in a third-world country, where labor is cheap, materials are cheap, and the end result is cheap.

But, as an artist, I don’t want cheap. I want best quality. Same for my food, I want the best quality.

Farmers’ markets offer fresher products as the produce is either grown locally, or has been brought in from somewhere that isn’t too far away.

1. Fresh food is healthier than something that’s processed, refined or manufactured.

Since the produce doesn’t travel far, from farm to your table, it’s fresher, therefore it’s healthier for your body.

I’ve recently started learning about Ayurveda. In case you aren’t aware….Ayurveda is an ancient health care tradition that has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years. The word comes from the Sanskrit terms ayur (life) and veda (knowledge).

One thing that draws me to Ayurveda is that it does not discriminate food to be good, or bad, instead it emphasizes various factors that influence food, such as its biological properties, origin, environmental factors, seasons, preparation, freshness, and provides a logical explanation of how to balance food according to one’s dosha and physical needs.

Everyone can benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables; simply think of ways to make your plate more colorful!

The more visually appealing your plate looks, the more likely you are to enjoy the healthy food—plus it means you are incorporating a greater variety of vegetables since they come in all colors.

Gets your kids involved by having them choose what colorful fruit or vegetable they want to try for the week!

I realize we all have different tastes and preferences, but when I hear someone say, “Ew gross, I hate carrots!”, I can’t help but ask myself, “I wonder if that person has ever tasted a young carrot straight out of the earth?

When I was a little girl, I remember going to Holland Landing (near Newmarket, Ontario) to visit friends of my parents who owned some land there. I am now 54 years old and yet to this day I remember the taste of a young carrot I pulled out of that dark earth, wiped on my jeans (no washing needed), and took a bite of. It was so sweet, like crunchy candy!

So even if you think you hate a certain vegetable, maybe buy it at a farmers’ market, where it’s fresh, and prepare it as simply as possible, so you really taste it for what it is.

For instance, some people hate Brussels sprouts….probably because the sprout they tasted was boiled to within an inch of its life and tasted like boiled socks.

But if you get fresh Brussels sprouts (they aren’t in season right now; they’re in season in autumn), peal off the outer tougher parts, slice the sprouts in half, place on a cookie sheet, coat in a little olive oil, sprinkle sea salt on them, and pop them in the over at a high heat (say, 400F) for about five or 10 minutes, or until dark golden brown.

You can also sprinkle them with some toasted sesame seeds….or if you want to be decadent….chopped bacon. The sprouts come out tasting nutty, not like smelly sneakers. SOOOO delicious!

And there you have it, five reasons to visit farmers’ markets.

Please share in the Comments section which is YOUR favourite farmer’s market and WHY? I truly want to know. Once I’m living the #vanlife, I will be travelling across Canada and the USA, from coast to coast to coast to coast, and plan on visiting as many farmer’s markets along the way as i can….so I truly would love to hear YOUR recommendation for farmer’s markets in your area!

3 Comments

  1. Great blog Elizabeth.
    I agree with you 100% fresh is the best .

    My Favorite market is St. Jacob’s Market in Waterloo , On Canada and in my home town of Koprivnica in Croatia..

    Like

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