As usual, I hit the farmer's market again this past Saturday. If you live in Louisville, get down to the Bardstown Rd Farmer's Market ASAP (The picture is not of my farmer's market). If you don't live in Louisville (most of you), find your local farmer's market and go. You'll find some really excellent stuff there. Here is a rundown of my take from this week:
Stand #1 - $4
- A big bag of kale greens
- Grapes (real grapes with seeds)
- 1 cucumber (still have some leftover from last week)
- 1 zucchini (still have two leftover from last week)
- 1 yellow squash
- 2 apples
Stand #2 - $13 (blackberries and blueberries are expensive)
- 1 pint of Brussels sprouts
- 1 quart of blackberries
- 1 pint of blueberries
Stand #3 - $8
- 2 heads of lettuce
- 1 bunch of basil
- Something else that I seem to have forgot
Various other stands
- A dozen free-range eggs with the orangest yolks I've seen - $3
- A bunch of green onions with the biggest bulbs ever - $1
- 1/3lb of raw blue cheese - $5
- 1 sunflower stem that contained about 6 sunflowers and really brightened up the house - $1
And the real gem of the trip:
- 2.xx pounds of rabbit for $4.50/lb - $9.50
I don't know the exact quantities of most of the stuff, nor was it all priced separately. Prices are approximate. Regardless, I know that I walked out $45 lighter, but 5 bags of food heavier! If you take out the rabbit and cheese, both abnormal purchases, the cost was really very low for a week's worth of produce.
My farmer's market has several people selling pastured chicken, grass-fed meats, free range eggs, and excellent raw cheese. You can't find that in the big box grocery, although most of these farms do sell through the local health food stores. The eggs are even cheaper than getting the good Omega-3 eggs from the grocery. One thing that is really cool at the farmer's market is seeing food that would NEVER be sold in a grocery store because it's too ugly. Grocery store tomatoes are all perfectly red and about the size and shape of tennis balls. The guy selling the berries had the craziest looking tomatoes. One of them was literally about 8" in diameter with a hole through the middle. It had actually grown into a ring. The rabbit/sunflower seller had two butternut squashes that were easily 1.5-2 feet long, one of which was a perfect U-shape. Because these items wouldn't pack well, nor are they pretty, they wouldn't be sold in a grocery store. Of course, the bulbous, ugly tomatoes are usually the most flavorful, but unfortunately, grocery store produce is all about yield and durability, not flavor and nutrition.
So why shop at a farmer's market?
- Variety: Note the ugly (probably more flavorful) tomatoes and squashes mentioned above; can't find that in the grocery.
- Freshness: Most of the food at the farmer's market was on the vine/in the ground just a few days before; most of what you purchase in the grocery has been picked before it's ripe (probably at least a week in advance) and artificially ripened (which helps to explain why it isn't as flavorful).
- Local: Supporting your local economy is always a good thing.
- Pollution: Whether you believe in human-caused global warming or not, we can all acknowledge that bringing organic grapes from California spews more pollution than bringing grapes from 75 miles away.
- Seasonality: What better way to eat seasonally than by buying from people who can only grow what is seasonal to your area.
- Price: With the exception of a few items, my bill from the farmer's market was very low. I don't normally purchase rabbit and cheese, so that's $15 I wouldn't have spent and the berries are probably similarly priced at Meijer.
- Meet the growers: You can actually talk to the people that grow your food, ask them about their growing methods, and make friends with them. It is nice to know that a human is at the other end of the food chain.