Day 1  – How to Shop at Farmers Markets Like a Regenerative Dad, or “Wait, aren’t there supposed to be farmers at farmers markets?”

Today we’re talking about the farmers markets that Mom drags you and the kids to. So let’s get at it.

Thanks for joining us for Day 1 of 31 Days to Regenerate Your World. This is the “Dad’s Boot Camp” for all things green, organic and eco-thrifty, but without so much of the hipster and “mommy blog” part of the sustainability thing.

Why Are Farmers Markets So Popular?

Vendor handing off fruit over a market scale
Careful, sometimes vendors are just reselling stuff from the grocery!

The dreaded farmers market trip with the family…  better tasting, local, organic, cheaper food… with an interesting atmosphere.

Or at least that’s what it’s supposed to be. The trick is that you have all kinds of non-food vendors trying to get in on that trendy action. Also, some food vendors are trying to make you think they’re better tasting, local, and organic… but they’re trying to sell you veggies and fruit that you could have bought from the grocery store!

That should really piss you off. It did for us when we found out about this.

How to Navigate a Farmers Market Like a Dad.

We’ve seen three kinds of farmers markets:

  • Single-farm stands, which are just one company’s booth or building on the side of the road.  Sometimes they’ll be in front of that farm, but sometimes they’re just on the side of the highway for no particularly good reason. 
    • Pros: You can tell from the road pretty quick if there’s anything worth stopping for. And if there’s nothing worth getting, you don’t have to worry about getting the kids out of the car.
    • Cons: Can’t comparison shop between booths for price or quality.

 

  • So-called farmers markets that are really just craft shows or business expos, really. There’s a booth or two selling produce.  Or a few more selling — what’s called in the market biz  “value added products” —  like salsa, honey, and baked goods. However, there will be a bunch of crafters, multi-level marketing companies, and other high-pressure sales types.
    • Pros: There will be a wide range of random stuff there, so once you get your veggies, there’s other things to look at. The farms that do work these markets are usully just starting out, so you get to help out the really little guy.
    • Cons: You’ll be aggressively sold-to by every roofer, cosmetic or clothing MLM lady, and satellite TV person in the community as you walk through.

 

  • Farmers markets that actually have farmers… plural! Larger communities will usually have one or two markets that the local, regenerative farms aspire to get into. The customers get the benefit.  a few veggie people, maybe a meat guy, someone selling duck or quail eggs (yes… quail eggs!), and some local food restaurants with their prepared food.
    Lots of veg and fruit vendors with in-season food? You’re golden.
    • Pros: These will sometimes have rules in place that the farmer who is selling the produce has to be the one who grew it. Maybe they have a “grown within 50 miles (or 100, whatever)” rule.  Plenty of comparison shopping and lots of options at these markets
    • Cons: Small, local farms grow the food. So there’s no asparagus during the fall, or squash in the early spring. But we’re trying to teach you to “eat seasonally” anyway here. So that’s okay.

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