Growing Up Healthy–How To Shop At Farmers Markets

posted on July 26, 2013 by  |  posted under Family, Summer  |  8 Comments

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to faster it’s renewal is our only hope.”

-Wendell Berry

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Everything my mother put on the kitchen table growing up was pretty much organic.  We planted a huge garden every Spring.  My mother had six children and everyone got to pick a few items that we wanted to plant.  My favorites were sweet peas, corn, strawberries and pumpkins.

 I remember one year I wanted to grow pumpkins. My mother warned me that pumpkins have never grown bigger than an apple in our garden and not to get my hopes up.  I was determined to take care of those pumpkins so I could have a big Jack O Lantern for Halloween.  I watered them daily and made sure they had plenty of room to grow.  By the end of summer I had about 30 huge gorgeous pumpkins and shocked everyone.

As a child, if I ever got hungry, my mom would tell me to go grab some peas, strawberries, or raspberries from the garden.  It was the best treat ever.

I try to be as healthy as possible with my own children, but I have to admit it is hard.  There is more junk food than ever at grocery stores, and I haven’t been able to grow my own garden.  My goal is to start a garden in Spring 2014.

I love farmers markets because they remind me of the fresh produce I would get from my mother’s garden. Everything looks so colorful and tastes so fresh.  It is never too late to teach your children the importance of eating healthy.  They will thank you.  Your body will be happier too.

Here are some tips on how to shop at  your local farmers markets and teach your children to crave good wholesome food.

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1. Get to the market early.  The best stuff goes fast.  Last weekend I was at the market waiting patiently in line for the most delicious berries.  They were sold out within about an hour of the market opening.

2. Bring your own wagon, baskets or bags.  Most farmers markets don’t supply bags.  And if you are planning on purchasing for the whole week, it is best to come prepared.

3. Bring cash.  I have learned this the hard way.  I have had to find an ATM many times and they only give you big bills which make it hard for vendors to make change.  Small bills is the best.  Don’t rely on the vendors to take credit cards.

4. Ease into organic.  If it’s your first time going to a farmers market and you don’t know what to get, just pick a couple of fruits and vegetables to try out once a week and then add  something new to your list weekly.  Eventually you will be a farmers market pro.

5.  Get the whole family involved.  Have your children help with the weekly list by having them find each item on the list at the market.  This teaches them at a young age to eat healthy.

6. Do your homework before you go to the market.  Know what is in season where you live.  And don’t be afraid to ask the vendor what fruit or vegetable tastes the best.

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Here is the dirty dozen. A list of fruits and vegetables that have the highest amount of pesticide residue.  Try to buy these organically if possible.

1. Strawberries

2. Potatoes

3. Peaches

4. Kale

5. Grapes

6. Apples

7. Celery

8. Lettuce

9. Spinach

10. Peppers

11. Cucumbers

12. Squash

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Try to find a local farmers market to support and keep your food investments in your own community. There is no point in shopping at a farmers market if it is just importing produce from the local super market. Check with your state’s website or Department of Agriculture to see if your state certifies farmers markets which only sell locally raised produce.

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Organic is a little bit more expensive than non organic, but worth it if you are concerned about additional pesticides.  Going organic is going to be cheaper if you buy at a farmers market rather than a grocery store because the fruit hasn’t traveled from miles away.  If the vendor doesn’t have an organic sign, don’t be afraid to ask them.

 Some states offer certifications for markets that sell only organic produce. Check with state’s website or with your local market to make sure that you are buying certified organic produce.

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What are your favorite items to buy at  farmers markets?

Ash Sig

Ashley was born and raised in Boise, Idaho and now lives in Henderson, Nevada.  She studied in Germany and created a hand knit hat business in 1998–Mutze by Ashley (meaning hat in German).  She is obsessed with her Husband, three daughters, fashion, coconut desserts, and garden gnomes.
Read all of Ashley’s posts.

    1. July 26th, 2013 at 11:46 am
      Marleen says:
      My favorites at the farmers market are agretti and purslane. Not well known produce but completely worth trying out. Love the post Ashley. Thanks!
    2. July 26th, 2013 at 11:55 am
      Mikey says:
      The donuts at the Boise farmers market are off the hook! Seriously, for like $2.50 they give you a pile of those little guys w cinnamon and powdered sugar. I get them w the cinnamon and maybe a chocolate dip cup on the side. The line is super long but totally worth it. Just watching those holy little fry balls being made is half the fun. And if you spend like a dollar more I'm pretty sure they'll fill up bucket the size of a small child to go. Seriously though, its the second best thing to do in Boise besides hitting up Merrits on old State Street for the fried scones. Talk about a life changer! Great post!
    3. July 26th, 2013 at 1:19 pm
      Angela says:
      Wait, you forgot to mention the amazing mini donuts at our Farmer's Market! I think they come in organic and non-organic varieties. I'm headed there tomorrow and can confirm! Thanks for the great article and loved the pics of Boise!
    4. July 26th, 2013 at 1:24 pm
      Angela says:
      Seriously, just read Mikey's post after I posted mine about the donuts! Great minds thinks alike and it's proof that the donuts rock! On another note, wanted to echo your article about the community benefits. We have several refugee communities in Boise and they grow produce to sell at the market. I always try to buy from their booths because I know it benefits them and their livelihood. Again, thanks for the great article,,,,,,
    5. July 26th, 2013 at 10:37 pm
      Libby says:
      I love your post, Ashley! As usual, the pictures make me feel like I am actually experiencing what you're writing about. I love farmers markets, but don't get myself to them very often. I must find my local markets and frequent them.
      I love Boise so next time I'm in town I will need to try these mini donuts!
    6. July 28th, 2013 at 6:29 am
      Taylor says:
      Hi Ashley, love the post. I read the 'dirty dozen' and I have to say I couldn't agree more. I bought some baking/jacket potatos from a super market the other day and not only were they smaller and less tasty than the ones I usually try to buy from our local fresh & organic green grocers but they were also covered in a slight pink/red tinge which I'm assuming must be some sort of chemical used to clean them when they come out of the earth? I'm not sure! Whatever it is, I don't feel good about it.
    7. July 30th, 2013 at 6:34 pm
      Anastacia Hauldridge says:
      Great Post! somethings on the list I didn't know was available organic with no GMO's but I got my eye out there for the healthy foods and veggies thanks!
    8. August 5th, 2013 at 2:44 pm
      Stephanie says:
      I don't take advantage of my local farmer's market enough, and your photos were a great reminder of the bounty I'm missing out on! You're very lucky that your mom raised you on healthy food and gave you that foundation to build upon. I liked hearing your memories about great food fresh from the garden ... nothing beats it!
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