There is nothing more satisfying than a meal created from your own garden, or with ingredients sourced from your local community. We may not have time to harvest our own produce, but we always make time to shop locally, especially during farmer’s market season. If you find yourself overwhelmed or unsure what to buy at your community's farmer’s market, we’re here to help. Today we’re sharing what things you should snag next time you decide to shop local.
Where to Find Your Local Farmer's Market
Sometimes the best local markets can be off the beaten path. Our favorite is the Wheeler Farm Market on Sundays, which is much smaller and less known than the downtown SLC Farmers Market (making it more relaxing in our opinion). Check with your city’s local events page or Google ‘farmers markets in your city’. You can also avoid the hectic weekend rush by looking up farms in your area that often sell fresh products on their property for reasonable prices. We suggest grabbing an iced coffee and visiting a few different markets over the summer to find your favorite that carries items you’re looking for and good prices.
What to Buy
If we’re being honest, as creatures of habit, introducing a new grocery routine can be intimidating. There are so many interesting ingredients available when you shop locally so ask vendors questions and you’ll find what works best for your lifestyle. Since most produce at farmers markets are from the area and quick to sell, you can expect them to be harvested more recently than a grocery store. Not only does this enhance the flavor but also improves the nutrition profile! No wonder those fresh summer peaches taste so good, they are packed with more vitamin C, A and E than those found in the store. What’s even better is the majority of small, local farms (at least those here in Utah) follow organic farming methods and don’t use pesticides, even if they don’t have an official certification. With all these reasons in mind, here are a few of our favorite things to buy locally:
Tomatoes - Usually a great price and way more flavorful than grocery-bought tomatoes.
Carrots - Find carrots in all shapes, colors, and sizes!
Berries - Berries have a short life span so get them while they are fresh.
Grass - Grass fed and grass finished beef is usually available and can be hard to come by at conventional grocery stores.
Eggs - Can we walk about the flavor that comes through in local, amber yolk eggs?!
Honey - Did you know eating honey made by local bees can help with allergies?
Peaches - Try grilling them and topping with ice cream for a summer dessert.
Squash - Try a new variety of squash that isn’t usually found in stores.
Bread - Many vendors give samples to help in your decision-making, always a welcome treat.
Mushrooms - Packed with vitamin D and can bring umami flavor to all your dishes especially the vegetarian ones.
Corn - We can’t get enough corn in the summer, cook it in batches and create a summer salad with corn, beans, tomatoes and avocado.
Apples - Contain pectin, the type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic to help digestion. Have one before your next BBQ to keep your gut extra happy.
Go with a Plan in Mind
Shopping locally takes a bit more thought and planning, but it’s worth it in the end! Make sure to check ahead online to see what is in season when you are shopping. From there, you can plan your menu and decide what items you need to pick up. Planning your meals helps you save money at the farmer’s market because you’ll know exactly which fruits and vegetables you need for each recipe. You’ll avoid overbuying foods and wasting money on produce you don’t need or can’t use.
Some of our favorite picnics happen at our local markets. Come ready to sample and snag lunch from one of the vendors.You’ll be amazed how many different cuisines are available and may be inspired to pick up ingredients to create your own. Be sure to bring a water bottle because it gets hot and don’t shy away from local kombucha on tap - one of our favorite beverages!
We hope these tips not only make your mouth water but inspire you to make the farmer’s market a weekly destination for the healthiest and most flavorful summer ingredients!