Farmer’s Markets – Beyond Fresh Vegetables

What You Can Find At Your Market that is Better than Your Grocery Store

If you are anything like me you absolutely HATE going to the grocery store/supermarket. The crowding and LOADS of products you just don’t want or need, and sifting through labels and rows and aisles of so many things. Forget about taking your kids because they want EVERY bright colored package of ANYTHING! SKIP IT ALL! You can avoid the supermarket completely – let me tell you how!

Most people think of the farmer’s market as a place to get vegetables. This is true – there are loads of vegetables at the market. You can get them organic, and yes sometimes they vary from the local supermarket, but it isn’t really what the market is all about. You can get so many other things at the farmer’s market for a better value – cost and product quality.

This is something you may or may not have realized. The farmer’s market generally has at least one vendor that sells meat. That meat might be beef, it might be pork, it might be chicken, or a combination of these meats. There is at least one vendor for these at our local market.

We have purchased pepperoni locally made, as well as locally made sausage from free animals that were humanely treated. You can purchase pieces of chicken (the cuts you want) or a whole chicken (which is the best way to do it). These chickens were loved and treated well.

Does it matter how the animals were raised and treated?

It sure does and let me tell you briefly about that. Animals that are raised on small farms have more space to roam (generally). They are moved from one field to another frequently (mostly daily). That provides them with adequate natural nutrients, that they were BORN to eat.

When you go to an industrialized mass produced farm (meaning they heavily process the meat as quickly as possible there are all kinds of things going on). For example, there could be thousands of chickens in one small barn, and they never see grass. They eat feed that they weren’t intended to, thus they do not receive the nutrition they need. They are bulked up by feed and slaughtered. Even the egg laying is effected by the environment.

The same applies to cows. They should eat GRASS! Their digestive systems are meant for GRASS! Cows should be moved from field to field, to graze on the grass to get different varieties, making them healthier.

If this interests you – the difference between small farms and industrialized production farms check out all of Michael Pollan’s books – especially The Omnivore’s Dilemma. But all of his investigations are interesting and relevant.

How do you know what you are getting at the market? Isn’t that worse than the store since there are labels?

NO! The label packaging (other than the use of the word organic) is highly unregulated and loosely enforced. Although grass fed beef in the grocery store says that – the ONLY criteria it needs to meet is that at least some of the food was grass. And even in an industrialized farm the young cows start with grass.

At the market the farmers are MORE than happy to tell you about their farm and animals. Remember they are REAL people and THAT ANIMAL is their livelihood. Literally. They wouldn’t feed their family or maintain their life without selling those goods to you. They are always willing to share (and generally without prompting how they raise and take care of their animals).

Our chicken guy told me from start to finish how he raises his chickens, in details. He told me how often he moves them, how much space he has them in, what he feeds them, and that he processes them himself so he knows exactly how the meat is handled before bringing it to the market. You won’t get THAT at the supermarket.

People often feel nervous about buying seafood at the market as well. BUT the same thing applies as with meat. The people selling seafood are passionate about the seafood, how they get it, and how they care for it and deliver it to you. If it’s a hot day – our seafood guy will package on ice and hold in his fridge truck until you are on the way out. And quality is important to them – it’s personal. They raise their families off of the seafood.

This is THE most cost effective way to get pastured eggs. What that means is that the chickens were free to roam on the grass and eat what they wanted and then lay their eggs. They weren’t kept in a pen with an opening for an egg to shoot out and then fed feed to stay alive. (Yes that is real). These are the most amazingly rich and nutritious eggs available as well. The chickens receive their natural nutrients in full – thus making a better egg. These eggs cost far less than the store (usually 50% less) for the “same label.” You can also talk to them about their chickens because they love to share so you know how they were treated.

Dairy – Cow & Goat
If you love milk, and you use whole milk, heavy cream, yogurt, goat cheese and regular cheese this is the place to get it. You can talk to them about their cows that produced the cream necessary for these products. They can tell you about the processing (or lack thereof). And that information is priceless because generally it also means their products have more nutrients (they were not processed out of them for longer shelf life and traveling time.). They are farm to you!

Other Pantry Items
On top of these amazing meats and dairy and poultry, you can also grab some things like specialized oils, vinegars, coffee, dog treats, and so much more. We will be investing in a local brew and the non electronic system for coffee soon – (be on the look out for a review and some links). You can also try and grab local wines, spirits, beers and more!

I am not going to get into vegetables here – this is for another day. But when in season you can get local vegetables at the market. In between seasons our market sells supermarket grade and style vegetables to provide all seasons all year – but in another post I will share about eating in season and how that is healthier for you in some respects. But know you can get amazing deals on vegetables at the market as well!

What about flours and other staples?
You can find breads, and pastas, as well as sauces at the market, but not all goods can be found there. Coming up next week I will be sharing my new organic amazing (easy) source of pantry staples like flour and sugar, and spices. Want to check it out sooner – check out my new product recommendation page here. I have only just started this page, and plan to put the local companies we love as well.

Do a search on the Google and grab the best location near you with times, and plan to do your grocery shopping there. Avoid the supermarket all together. We do. We get staples from my new pantry love here, and then we get the rest at the market. We are always right on budget or under, and it also helps overspending. You buy fresh, use it and go back next week for some more. If you need more in between – try another local market on a different day. Now that it is May – they will all be opening if they are seasonal only.

Share with me your favorite farmer’s market finds, and what you might try new this week below.

If you want to start eating fresh, local foods at home, but have no idea where to even start – check out my online course here! Join anytime!

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