Summer is officially here! What better way to celebrate than by taking a trip to your local farmers' market and enjoying the natural bounty of the season?
I try to shop at the market in Reston as often as I can during the summer.
If you’re not a regular farmers' market shopper, you might ask: what’s the big deal? I’m glad you did! Farmers’ markets are a passion of mine—they are not just a place to get the freshest produce at excellent prices, but a way to spend more time outside and feel a sense of community.
First, the food. Most produce you buy in a grocery store has traveled a long journey to be there. Grocery store produce is often grown hundreds or thousands of miles away, and takes quite a while to get from there to your dinner plate. By contrast, produce from the farmers’ market has often been picked that same morning, or certainly within the last day or two. It’s remarkably fresh, and you can taste the difference!
This also means you get the benefit of all the antioxidants, amino acids and nutrients that exist in really fresh food. As you would expect, the healing power of plants is most potent right after they have been picked. The fresher your food, the better it is for your body. And the fresher the food, the longer it lasts. You’ll be impressed by how little food you waste when it truly stays fresh for a week or more after you purchase it.
A trip to the farmers’ market can also help inspire you to eat healthier. After all, seeing the bright colors and beautiful shapes of so much fresh food, one can’t help but want to cook with it. Like a painter, you can combine colors to create something wonderful. A meal rich with fresh vegetables in all the colors of the rainbow is exactly what your body needs to thrive.
Of course, farmers’ markets aren’t just about the food. A trip to the grocery store usually means spending half an hour under florescent lights, dodging shopping carts. Going to the farmers’ market means spending time in the sun (or the rain), and getting to connect with nature. For the stressed out among us, this can be an incredibly relaxing experience.
Shopping at a farmers’ market also means benefiting your local community. The farmers all come from your area—they have to drive there after all! Your dollars go to support local businesses and agriculture, not huge chains.
You can also develop a greater sense of community yourself. Shopping at the farmers' market every week, you start to see the same people over and over again, from your fellow shoppers to the farmers themselves. It makes the whole experience more friendly, fun and special.
Check out your local farmers' market this weekend! No expert experience necessary :)