When you’re cooking up a family favorite for dinner or throwing together something quick for lunch, the quality of your ingredients matters.
A sandwich with bread made weeks ago with added unnecessary chemicals tastes much different than a loaf freshly baked yesterday. Most can tell the difference between a pint of blueberries that’s shipped across the border or those grown a few miles down from your house. Biting into an apple with the label of “Product of Chile” is a much different experience from the crispness of an orchard just on the outskirts of your town.
Shopping and eating local make a difference.
Especially during the summertime season, taking a weekly trip to your local farmers market can inspire new flavors and recipes in your everyday cooking. At Fustini’s we’re thrilled to offer wholesome, locally-made products that support both our community and our customers. With products like our West Michigan Blueberry balsamic made from blueberries from right in the West Michigan community and partnerships with places like Iron Fish Distillery with bourbon maple syrup and honey vinegar, we believe local is where the fun is at.
Need more reasons to wander through your local farmers’ market? Here we share seven reasons to make a trip to your local market this week.
When it comes to getting the best flavor for all your dishes, the freshness of your ingredients can greatly enhance your culinary experience. By shopping at your local farmers’ market, you’ll most often pick up produce that’s been picked within the last few days, or even the night before or that morning.
That freshness is translated into the vibrant flavors as you cook or eat them. The apples are crunchier. The berries are juicer. The romaine leaves are crisp. From food to the morning air, fresh is best. Eating what’s in season helps guide your buying decisions to pick up only the best. And with a farmers market, getting that freshness is easy.
When you walk the aisle of stands and tables at a market, the people you pass aren’t just vendors. She also works at the cute retail store downtown. He has a kid in your son’s grade. She attends yoga classes at the same gym as you. They live on your street.
At a farmers’ market, you get to meet your neighbors and engage in the community in which you live and work.
Whether the vendors who sell fresh produce and specialty items are part of a family business, spend their summers in the fields or have found a fun side hustle, buying local supports your local economy.
When your produce comes from other states or countries, there’s a high transportation cost-related. It’s a cost both on the financial side and on the environment. With shorter travel distance from the farm to your table, fewer greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles are released into the air.
Beyond the minimizing of transportation-related effects, the farms themselves also keep the environment healthy and happy. Many farms take intentional steps to keep their produce free of harmful chemicals and pesticides or limit their use. Some may even be organic certified and non-GMO.
These local, smaller-scale farms can often maximize efficiency with the space that they have. This empowers them with the opportunity to produce less environmental waste and release fewer harmful gas in the air. These small farms help support the environment in their work.
Browsing the lines of produce at a market, you might come across some new and intriguing items. Ever hear of kohlrabi? What about rhubarb? Do you know how many colors cauliflower comes in?
A trip to the farmers market gives you the chance to try something you might not notice in your regular trip to the grocery store. Even better, you can talk to the vendors who know about the produce and can provide some great insight into ways to use it in your everyday cooking.
When you read the label of “product of Mexico”, chances are, you don’t know who the farmer was who grew those tomatoes. You can’t picture the fields in Chile where people spent hours picking berries.
Getting your produce locally also is quite affordable. While the prices can be competitive or slightly higher than discount grocery stores, the produce you’re getting is often of much higher quality. That close proximity also means that your money goes farther without having some if it going to transportation costs as produce travels across state and country lines.
Depending on the size of the farmers market you visit, you can shop a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, plants and specialty food products. In one bag, you can have fresh-picked beans and zucchini, in another you may have a pint of sweet, juicy strawberries and in another, you might have a loaf of bread, a bottle of Worcestershire sauce and sauerkraut.
If you’re looking for a source of summertime entertainment where you can spend time outdoors, farmers’ markets are where it’s at. With safety precautions in place, farmers’ markets can be a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty that the seasons offer. While some markets may be year-round, others are just during the spring, summer and fall. All the more reason to soak in the season with great produce and staying engaged in the community.
Whether you’ve been making weekly trips for years or are just beginning to explore the wonder of a farmers market, it’s worth a trip. With guidelines such as wearing masks and social distancing, the outdoor space of a market can be a great way to get out of the house and savor the seasons through delicious, wholesome produce and specialty food products.
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