Kendra Thatcher, DTR and Culinary Program Facilitator

The farm market is a staple in my grocery shopping routine. In addition to my kitchen, it’s my place of zen where I am inspired by seasonal flavors and able to meet the people behind the produce.

I remember in 2008 when the Green Movement was really gaining notoriety. I was living in New York and overwhelmed (in a good way) with the number of markets that would spring up month after month. The traditional farm market has grown into a hub of nutrition and culinary education – connecting the farmer and the food to the consumer and the eater. It’s beautiful.

Here are my top reasons why you should seek out one (or two or three) in your area:

  1.  It’s not just May-through-October anymore. A plethora of year round markets can be found in urban and suburban areas now. A simple Google search will connect you to what is happening near you. Just type in “Farm Market” + the name of your town, and a full list of resources will populate. Where I live in Bucks County, we have two stationary indoor markets (Stangle in Flemington and Stockton Market in Stockton) and then a “pop-up” market supported by the Hunterdon Land Trust. More and more farms are also jumping on the bandwagon and providing their own farm shops/stands. In the winter months you’ll find hardier produce such as turnips, parsnips, kale, radishes, garlic and onions, potatoes, and cabbages – but most farmers now supply greenhouse goodies like microgreens!
  2. Just because it’s not labeled as “organic” does not mean it isn’t grown organically. The “Certified Organic” label is something that needs to be purchased by the farmers – the process and certification are very expensive. Most small farms do grow their food with organic practices but cannot afford to label it as such. This is where a simple conversation comes into play. Ask your farmers how they grow their food – better yet, visit their farm. I haven’t met a farmer yet who isn’t excited to talk about their work and to show off their fields!
  3. Fresh is something you can’t really put a price on. Ask anyone and they will tell you that produce does taste different when you buy it locally. Why? Because it is FRESH! Garlic, for example, has a stronger flavor but can also have a slightly floral hint. Carrots, I find, are sweeter and more delicate. Kale is delightfully peppery and earthy. This is mainly because the food doesn’t have to be shipped far distances and stored for longer periods of time. Which brings me to my next point…
  4. Support local. There are many benefits to buying local – too many to put in this post. By purchasing produce from the farmers you send a very powerful message that you care where your food comes from and you care about the food you put into your body.

As far as nutrition goes, you really can’t go wrong at the farmers market. Remember to fill your basket with a rainbow of produce. By doing so you’ll ensure you and your family get the best range of nutrients!