In our ongoing quest to help you find the satisfaction of enough for today, we’re always looking for activities that you can do that will help the planet, help you to de-stress and help reduce consumerism all at one time. That’s why it’s shocking to us that we’ve never suggested spending a day at your local farmers’ market as a way to accomplish these goals. For today’s satisfaction tip, we’re giving you advice about stimulating your senses, eating better and possibly even learning something new.
The Farmers’ Market: A Way to More Sustainable (and Healthier) Food
The most obvious benefit of going to the farmer’s market is that you’ll begin to eat both more healthily and more sustainably. Food sold at a farmers’ market, produced by local farmers, doesn’t involve nearly as many food miles as what you buy in a grocery store (though, yes, there are food miles involved both in the farmer transporting the food to the market and you transporting yourself to the market!). Most local farmers are also going to be using fewer pesticides and chemicals on their food and certainly fewer preservatives since the food typically is eaten more quickly and in a fresher state. Finally, you’re far less likely to run into a GMO food at a farmers’ market. In short, you’ll just find better food options that are healthier for you and better for the planet at a farmers’ market. That said, do your research. Just because somebody is selling at a farmers’ market, it doesn’t mean that he or she is an organic farmer! Be sure to ask about what went into the products that you’re buying, even if it’s at a stand where the farmer is right there.
The Farmers’ Market: A Way to Stimulate Your Senses
Stimulating your senses reduces stress, plain and simple. Giving your brain activity and sensory experience is healthy, and there are few places where you’ll be able to stimulate as many senses at once as at the farmers’ market. The visual of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, the smells of produce and baked goods, the feel of the different food textures as you select them … it’s a sensory carnival that will leave you inspired for the rest of the weekend.
The Farmers’ Market: A Way to Avoid Weekend Grocery Stress
Going to the grocery store on the weekend is also a sensory experience, but not typically in the relaxing or inspiring way. On the weekend, most grocery stores are packed with busy, rushed people who just want to get their “grocery chore” done. The stress level is often palpable, and we’re all trying to reduce stress in order to find the satisfaction of a passionate life. Why stand in a crowded line of crying children, frustrated adults and the menacing stare of corn-syrup soda and candy products when you can have an “experience” instead of a “chore” at your local farmers’ market?
The Farmers’ Market: Education That Tastes Good
Knowledge is power, and learning new things stimulates our brains and enriches our lives. Farmers’ markets are almost always a great place to learn new things on just about every trip. From learning about what produce is seasonal and how to prepare it to getting to know your community better, there’s always a new piece of information to take away from a day at the farmers’ market. If you’re lucky, that new piece of knowledge will also be delicious.
The Farmers’ Market: Budget Realities
One concern that we’ve often heard about opting out of grocery stores for farmers’ markets is that the cost of buying local or organic is higher. Of course, “cost” is a variable term and takes into account what you consider to be cost (for some people, there’s a cost associated with eating less healthily or polluting the planet). We’d encourage you to do your own research on this. While it’s true that you may be able to buy more “volume” at a grocery store, it’s not necessarily true that your money would get you more nutrients. We all know that one of the dietary problems currently facing America is a focus on quantity rather than quality. That said, the simple baseline that buying food at a farmers’ market instead of a grocery store costs more often just doesn’t hold up as true if you’re, literally, comparing apples to apples.
Extra Ways to Be Eco-Conscious About Farmers’ Markets
If you are headed out to a farmers’ market, be sure to do your part, too. Bring reusable shopping bags with you. Also bring reusable eating utensils and a water bottle or coffee cup in case you decide to eat while at the farmers’ market. Finally, be responsible about keeping your local farmers’ market clean!
A trip to the farmers’ market is always a great idea, even if it’s not how you do your weekly, regular grocery shopping. Plan one for this weekend!
Photo: NatalieMaynor via Flickr