Experience your local farmers market

Published 9:35 am Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A visit to the local farmers market is a refreshing shopping experience.

Have you ever perused the fruit and vegetable counters at your supermarket and wondered where the items were grown or what type of fertilizers and pesticides were used?

At the farmer’s market, wonder no more. Shopping becomes a personal experience where you can ask local producers your questions.

Often times the farmers will give you information on storing and preparing their produce. Because of the abundance and perishability of the foods, farmers will offer produce at good prices.

The beautiful colors and rich aromas of the fruit and vegetables are certain to stimulate your appetite. Foods picked at the peak of season have a better taste and retain more nutrients and phytochemicals than foods shipped and warehoused.

Farmers arrive at the market early, so you may want to plan a.m. shopping trips. The earlier you arrive the better you will be able to select the freshest produce.

Remember to involve the children in this unique shopping experience. Give your children each $2 and let them explore the world of produce. There is a much greater chance your child will try new food since it belongs to them. The children are certain to delight in the social interaction as well.

Before you leave the market, always ask the farmers what they will be harvesting next. This way you can plan your meals ahead of time. This is also a good tip for eliminating that overwhelming feeling of what to buy once you get there.

Shopping the farmer’s market benefits the farmers and strengthens your community. They help bring life into towns and cities aiding regeneration. They stimulate local economic development by encouraging consumers to support local business.

They also attract business to retailers in the vicinity. Shopping the local market is a win-win situation for you and the farmers.

Jennifer Dutton is a regional extension agent with the Alabama Extension Office. She can be reached at JLD0021@auburn.edu.