Nous-allons au marché!
Checking out your local weekend markets is an activity you can enjoy with all the family or housemates; it’s also an event to really look forward to! Every Sunday you can find me at my local Queen’s Park Farmers market, basket in hand, generously sniffing the produce, exclaiming loudly how delicious it smells. I’ll challenge you to find a tastier fisher-monger than the chap who serves my Sunday morning oysters. Dreamy. As opposed to the weekend supermarket dash, markets offer a rare chance to blissfully enjoy ambling and browsing. What’s more, building a routine each Sunday really helps create a comforting sense of wellbeing, the one we all crave. Sounds crazy but its true.
Yet surprisingly people are reluctant to break with die-hard habits. They make excuses; too expensive, not convenient enough, not enough non-seasonal veg flown in from halfway across the world. Seriously, how would you feel after up to 24 hours (or more) in transit? I can’t imagine the fruit and vegetables feel any better. Not to mention the carbon footprint created by all that flying about. There are certainly benefits to limiting yourself to less ingredients (seasonal ones). Firstly, it gets you more creative in the kitchen, creates an ethical stance in your eating habits (less of a carbon footprint) tastes fresher, and by default is overall better for you. Fresher produce ensures a greater yield of nutrients, which degrades over time. I also find if you’re selective with your shop you can save pounds. Many of the farmers also offer meat and veg box deliveries, a great option for those of you who are really time poor. If you’re not convinced yet here are my top 3 reasons why you should get with the times and embrace your local weekend Farmers Market!
Farmers markets are a great opportunity to embrace your local community. It’s a chance to get up-front-and-personal with food and its producers, interact, and having some context for what you’re eating. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Sunday morning jokes over the cabbages, a squeeze of the pears here, a nibble of the tart there. (It’s your imagination that went to that place!) The truth is, you can eat broccoli to your hearts content, but if you’re not fostering positive relationships with people (a quick chat in the queue here, some acknowledging eye contact there) life looses its lustre. Its people that count, and people are community. So go do it. Squeeze that pear and smile at the vendor. (Disclaimer; I have no responsibility for what happens after this point!)
2. Quality Ingredients and looking your best
If you’re stuck in a cooking rut, the farmers market is a great opportunity to try out some new ingredients you wouldn’t normally experiment with. Variety is literally the spice of life. When it comes to nutritional balance the body doesn’t fare well eating the same foods all the time, all year round. Market produce is by nature seasonal and local, so you can be sure of finding the freshest ingredients around, containing the highest levels of vitamins and minerals. I’m a strong advocate of a varied and delicious diet, one you should enjoy. If you do eat meat, try where you can to make it grass fed. These animals, fed a diet that most resembles the one they would have in nature, contains so much more of those lovely Omega 3’s we are all crying out for. It also tastes so much more intense, flavouring stews beautifully. A little goes further too. I understand it’s not in everyone’s budget to eat organic, grass fed meat all the time (including my own!) The trick is to just enjoy it less, and choose quality over quantity. There are many great plant based proteins you can incorporate into your diet, which are tasty and nutritious too.
3. Save money
I find market produce so fresh, it literally keeps longer. As a result I waste and throw away less. I still use the supermarket for cupboard basics (tins, jars and dried essentials) But I try source my fresh goods from the market. I throw away less, spend the same money, and get a longer shelf life. Triple win! Another tip, if you arrive nearer the end of the day there are always some fantastic bargains to be had!