Why Farmers’ Markets are Trendy, and What You Need to Know Before You Go

Jul 20, 2018Media

It appears farmers’ markets are popping up everywhere these days. I’m also sure you know someone, whether a neighbour, cousin or friend who takes a trip to the market once a week to buy their kale or cheese. Are you ready to visit your local farmers’ market? Here are tips you need to know!

Why are they more popular?

​Farmers’ markets are a part of the “Community Shopping Experience” that more people are interested in. They allow you to speak directly with your farmer so you can ask questions about how the food was produced and hear their stories. Many also want to support their local farmers these days, in addition to going for fresh, local and healthy food choices.

 

​What should I bring to the farmers’ market?

 

Unlike grocery store shopping, where you bring a list of what you need, farmers market shopping is more like an ADVENTURE, so you want to bring the right things:

  • A grocery cart, reusable grocery bags or backpack – Farmers may not have plastic bags for you and it’s more environmentally friendly! If you don’t plan on going home straight after, an insulated grocery bag is great! Or, you can always go old school and bring a basket like these ones:

 

  • CASH is KING: Most vendors are small, local producers and will not have credit/debit machines. Also, who likes visiting the ATM during a shopping trip (not me)! Bring cash, especially small bills, $5s and $10s. Change is good as well. Save up your change throughout the week and use them on Saturday at the market!

What kinds of questions should I ask the farmer/vendor?

 

How was the food grown? How should I store this item in my kitchen? What are your cooking tips for this?

This is the exciting difference between grocery store shopping and farmers’ market shopping: The grocery store worker won’t always know where the beef is from, but the vendor/farmer will know everything about the product they sell. They know their craft and their food, because they have grown or prepared the food themselves. You are also supporting your local farmer by buying from them!

When is the best time to go? 

 

The least busy times are in the early morning and late afternoon. It also depends on what you want:

  • For freshest produce and the first pick: Go first thing in the morning when it opens 
  • To get a deal: Go in the late afternoon, when farmers are about to pack up. At some farmers’ markets (but not all), vendors may not want to take home all that leftover produce, so they might give you a deal on what they are selling.

How to make the experience more fun?

Try Something New: 

Part of the appeal of visiting a farmers market is you get to sample lots of new products that you would otherwise skip over at the grocery store. Things you try on a whim at the market can quickly become a staple in your kitchen; such as a new type of cheese or a fruit you would otherwise would have never have the opportunity to try.Make it a Tradition:
Regular farmers’ market goers often make the experience into a family tradition. For example, after we do our Saturday morning shopping, my husband and I will go and get gelato from the local ice cream shop in the market!

 

What should I buy from the farmers’ market?

 

Buy what’s in season:
It’s often the cheapest, freshest and most nutritious. You will know what’s in season, because they are displayed front and centre.

 Some current in-season July items are:

 

  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) – full of antioxidants and fibre!
  • Cherries
  • Green beans, Peas
  • Corn
  • Zucchini

What should I do with the produce when I get home?

 

Because these items are in season, they are cheaper in larger quantities meaning you may end up buying more than you can finish at one time. To avoid spoilage, I end up freezing my extra produce in freezer bags. Because you are freezing at peak ripeness, the produce remains highly nutritious.

For example, frozen strawberries can be used year-round in different dishes such as:

  • Your morning smoothie. Check out this recipe here
  • On top of oatmeal, with hemp seeds, nuts and flax seeds. This is especially delicious in the dead of winter!
  • In pies and cakes. ​ They make great fillings and toppings!

What are Michelle’s favourite farmers’ markets?

 

My favourite farmers’ market is the Hamilton Farmers’ Market (Hamilton proud!), but other ones I like in Toronto are:St. Lawrence Market – A classic. It’s been there since 1803!Artscape Wychwood Barns – A mix of food and art, Artscape Wychwood Barns has great finds in a stunning space.


The Leslieville Farmers’ Market – I love Leslieville , and find this market to be very community-minded.

 

For a full list of farmers markets in Toronto, check out Breakfast Television’s website for seasonal and year-round markets

Watch the full interview here:

​Farmers’ markets are all apart of a growing movement of being more connected to your food! Are you going to check out your local market in your community? Leave me a comment below and let me know!

 ​

Meet Michelle

Welcome, I'm Michelle! I'm a TV and digital media registered dietitian and Asian cuisine content creator based out of Hamilton, ON Canada!

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