Healthy eating and an all-natural lifestyle have been everyone’s obsession nowadays. However, as many quickly learned, funding such a green way of life isn’t easy on one’s budget Thank goodness farmers markets exist! People now have better access to better and healthier food without breaking the bank.
If you haven’t heard of a farmers market by now, you’ve probably been living under a rock. There are thousands of farmers markets spread out across the country, with more popping up as time passes by. Consumers are much more attentive to where their food is coming from so being able to buy produce directly from the farmer or grower has been a real game changer. Not only are people eating better and healthier, but farmers and other people in the agriculture business are being given a boost which, in today’s rapidly growing economy, is much needed.
Another significant trend that’s gripped the public as of late is choosing to buy and consume organic food or fruits and vegetables grown without the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, or the like. Yes, there’s a ton of benefits of eating organically grown produce instead of the ones you can find at a supermarket. Researchers have proven that conventionally grown produce – which uses chemicals to help the fruits or vegetables grow – contain chemical residue even after thorough washing. Consuming this contaminated produce could risk your health in the long run.
However, make no mistake. Not everything that’s available in a farmers market is organic. Most, if not all, the produce and other food products may be locally grown or made, but not all of the produce is guaranteed to be organically grown.
Lucky for you, there’s a quick way to determine which stall sells organic food. The proper authorities certify organic farmers before they can sell their produce and they’ll definitely have a sign advertising their organic fruits or vegetables. But sometimes even a simple sign isn’t enough. If you’re really particular about your food or if you’re just starting to give farmers markets a try, it’s best if you keep these food safety tips in mind before you make a purchase:
1. Talk to the farmer or seller
Besides as a safety precaution, this is also one of the main benefits of shopping at a farmers market. You can get to know the person or persons involved in growing and harvesting your food. Not only will you be more aware and appreciative of your food, but you’ll also be connecting with people in your community.
Don’t be afraid to ask the farmer questions about themselves and their farm. Sometimes sellers will buy produce from other farmers (or even from a supermarket) and pass it off as their own. You can easily tell if the seller is legitimate with a few simple questions. Of course, it should go without saying that you need to be polite and friendly.
2. Be aware of what the signs and statements mean
When you get to a farmers market, you’re going to find yourself surrounded by these signs with buzzwords that may not know the meaning of. It’s easy to get swept into the spirit of things, but it’s important to understand what you’re buying. For instance, stalls that sell “certified organic” produce mean that they have all the right verification from food authorities. So if you’re looking for organic fruits and vegetables, look for stalls with that sign. On the other hand, some stalls might bear signs saying that their produce is “pesticide free” which can be confusing and need further clarification. Both organic and conventional produce use pesticide (the former using natural pesticide instead of chemical), so if a vendor claims that they don’t use pesticide, you can ask what they use to prevent pests from infecting the fruit or vegetable instead.
3. Take your time
Although it depends on the area, most farmers markets are quite huge, with several stalls selling similar products and produce. Don’t just visit a couple of stalls while you’re there. Take your time and really explore the place. You might find better or more affordable produce.
4. Don’t judge a produce by its cover
Lastly, even though certified organic produce doesn’t use chemical pesticides, that doesn’t mean that you can eat the fruit or vegetable raw or unwashed. No matter how clean and spotless a fruit or vegetable appears, you need to give it a thorough washing before you can consume it. You never know what microorganisms are on the surface of that produce, so it’s wise to wash it before taking a bite.
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Best Organic Vegetables to Buy
If you’re really into cooking, you know how essential onions can be. However, did you know that most onions are shipped from other countries? Those onions you get at the grocery store most likely come from as far away as South America. Plus, they’re treated with chemical pesticides. That’s why farmers market organic onions are so much better. They’re safer to consume, and they taste better too.
Here’s another vegetable that’s commonly shipped from overseas. What’s more is that the authorities actually require all imported asparagus to be sprayed with a specific type of pesticide that researchers suspect can cause cancer. All the more reason to buy asparagus at a farmers market. Organic asparagus is so much healthier, and you can even find different kinds of asparagus like the purple ones which, by the way, have disease-busting properties and anti-carcinogens. And as a bonus tip: get asparagus stalks that are still stiff and straight. The ones that droop are already old and have lost their essential nutrients.
Grocery store tomatoes are often chosen to be identical with one another. They’re harvested before they’re ripe and then refrigerated so they can be transported easily. As a result, the tomatoes you buy at a supermarket aren’t nearly as juicy and delicious as the ones you get at a farmers market. Organic tomatoes are picked when they’re fully ripe, so you get them when their taste and texture are at their best. Tomatoes are packed with nutrients and vitamins too so getting them at a farmers market is absolutely essential.
When you buy conventionally grown bell peppers, they tend to have a lot of pesticide residue. That’s why organic bell peppers are the way to go. Not only can you find organic bell peppers at a farmers market, but you can also bet that you’ll find a wider variety of bell peppers too. Green peppers, in particular, are wonderful since they have a ton of antioxidants.
Speaking of variety, did you know that there are actually purple carrots? You probably have never seen them in that color if you’ve only bought your produce at a grocery store. But you can find them at a farmers market. These colorful carrots have more nutrients than the typical orange carrot.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try out other varieties of radishes at the farmers market too. There are a lot of types you can’t find in a regular grocery store. What’s more is that these radishes are much more flavorful than your average red radish so you might find yourself a new favorite vegetable at the farmers market.