Oh, Winter. You double-edged sword. I appreciate the months without the glaring heat. I understand the necessity of the cycle to allow for new growth. But you took my farmers market away for three whole months! I haven’t liked many things about Oregon, but I will say this, I have come to adore the farmers market. And being without my local eggs, grass-fed and free range meat, fresh honey, and locally grown, organic vegetables has been difficult this year.
But now the snow’s a melting (who am I kidding, we didn’t get any snow…), and the weather is a turning. The sun is coming out more and more (and our workouts are taking place more and more in the open air, rather than in a building). And my market haven has returned…sorta.
The “winter” market is back, but only every other week. So, this means, if I want to utilize the market for most of my meals, I really have to plan ahead. Fortunately, I have been practicing planning ahead with my meal plans, and last week a got stocked up on one of my favorite products, Quorn chicken (it was on sale at QFC). But I want to at least get my eggs, bacon, and some fresh veggies from local vendors.
There is so much to love about a farmer’s market. For a locavore environmentalist who is looking for healthier food choices, the farmer’s market is the place to be! Local foods are healthier, tastier, and protect our precious resources. Packaged foods or foods that have been shipped across the country or even the world have added preservatives to keep the food fresh longer. They are often harvested before the produce is actually ready, meaning they can be missing key nutrients we would benefit from eating them when they are ripe and ready. Eating local allows us to eat foods that are seasonally available, which increases the nutrients and benefits of eating those particular foods at that particular time. When eating for a healthier planet, we need to know where our food is coming from. Visiting your local farmer’s market allows you to talk to the vendors. You can ask the questions that will ease your mind about the food you are purchasing. At our local market, I purchase yak and bison meat from Pine Mountain Ranch, and they even provide photos of their farm, as well as a knowledgeable attendant who is happy to answer all my annoying questions about how the animals are raised. Bison and yak are two of the best meats to consume, as they utilize less water and less forage than our beef cattle. I feel good about purchasing from a local farmer, also, as it supports small farms, whose workers are more likely to practice environmental, organic, and sustainable methods for producing food. And buying local definitely has a positive impact on our carbon footprint, decreasing the amount of oil used to ship food from the farm to my plate.
So, I should be excited that my farmer’s market is back, but it is depressing that it’s only here every other week. It is a sign that local produce is literally just around the corner, and my patience will pay off after the our mild but still dampening winter.
To find your local farmer’s market, download the phone app CarrotCow. You can find more than your veggies and meat. Baked goods, wine and beer, crafts, jams, jewelry, pastas, plants, and even soap are all products you can buy at a local market. Check it out, and find out for yourself how healthy you can be for the planet!