Seasonal bounty! Excursion to the Farmers' Market...

What with vacations and general busyness, I hadn't made it to the Farmers' Market in a while... But let me tell you, this is the right time to be dropping by your local produce stand! The Farmers' Market near my job is on the small side, with only a couple of booths dedicated to produce (the others for salsa, smoothies, and fresh bread, among other things), but even so there was a huge variety of vegetables available. I was able to go home with tomatoes, onions, potatoes, figs, and corn... all gorgeous, incredibly fresh, and raised without pesticides. Other items available included several types of beans, as well as peas, okra, shallots, and arugula as well, which made for difficult decisions I can tell you!

Pricing was a little bit higher for the potatoes and onions then they would have been at the International Market, but a convenient opportunity to buy locally was more than worth it to me. Also, the "small" bag of cherry tomatoes I purchased for $2 was about two or three times what is normally sold at the grocery store for even more than that amount, so there are definitely deals to be found.

There really is something to be said for being able to have a conversation with the people who tended and harvested the food you're about to take home with you... One of the ladies I spoke with works a certified organic farm, and her passion for rediscovering our too-often forgotten heritage of food production was truly contagious. Another booth attendant was speaking of how only hours before she had picked and shucked the peas she was selling. With no pun intended, shopping locally provides a really wonderful feeling of rootedness. Our food doesn't just materialize at the grocery store, it comes from plants painstakingly fussed over by other human beings; farmers who are proud of their work and their choice of ethical agriculture, and make eye contact with you as they hand you your purchases. Enjoying this sense of community in an outdoor environment made my little shopping expedition incredibly restful somehow, a small moment of connectedness with other people and our mutual past even in the midst of a bustling reality.

All that to say, if you haven't already you really should give Farmers' Markets a chance! With so many vegetables in season, this really is a perfect moment for it... so go go! And let yourself take time to browse, to be curious, and to revel in the knowledge that the food you're buying was attached to a stalk, stuck in the ground of your own state, maybe only hours before.

For seasonal guides on produce so you can know what to expect each month, as well as websites to help you find Farmers' Markets convenient to you, refer back to my post on tips for finding local and organic produce affordably. And for more thoughts and ideas on enjoying and benefiting from local produce, check out the other posts in this week's Food Roots at the blog Nourishing Days.

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