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Shop Local: Your Farmer’s Market

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A Trip to Your Local Farmers’ Market Can Take the Drudgery Out of Grocery Shopping

The importance of shopping locally and investing in one’s own community is becoming widely understood. How many of you have been dismayed like I have when visiting famous intersections in different cities that the same four stores are on each corner? Supporting local businesses is a way to keep our towns and cities from becoming generic. Business originality, independence, and diversity must be supported to continue to exist. Local farmers’ markets are one of my favorite ways to be sure that I am buying locally and supporting independent business owners. Pretty much without fail and for no reason that I can easily pin down, farmers’ markets lift my spirits. The hustle and bustle, the fact that the markets are outdoors, and the community “energy” makes shopping for groceries more about fun than drudgery. I leave a farmers’ market inspired to cook and eat something, often educated about something new, and occasionally surprised. I feel good buying fresh, colorful, organic produce for my family. Multiple market visits have made the faces behind the stands familiar to me, and I have learned to look for local chefs and restaurant owners (often the first to the market with a cart or toting large market baskets) to see what draws their attention.

I will be honest, there have been occasions when my farmer’s market buying impulses have led me astray, but I like to try new things and refuse to give up because of a couple of setbacks. Without question, there have been more positive discoveries than negative. My girls are now cherimoya fiends as a result of a farmers’ market purchase; and we have learned the art of removing thorns from prickly pears to make prickly pear juice. (“Jugo de tunas” has nothing to do with fish!)

I often turn to my Farmers’ Market for gifts. Last December I was charged with the task of buying a large number of corporate gifts. The gifts had to be similar and affordable. I also wanted them to be tasteful, original and broadly appealing. I turned to my local farmer’s market for inspiration. Sure enough, a walk down one of the aisles soothed my anxiety by providing me with the perfect solution. A few minutes later, the back of my car was full of over 50 live Amaryllis plants ready to bloom for the holidays. They were a hit. I have purchased countless jars of honey and homemade jams as gifts and thank yous. I love the homemade “look” of the jars. Frequently, I do nothing more than tie a ribbon around them because their original packaging is as attractive as any wrapping paper. They look so appealing that more than once they have turned out to be consumed at home before I could get them to their intended recipients.

I encourage you to put your local Farmer’s Market on your calendar to make sure you go. You won’t regret the outing and may even find yourself inspired and somehow energized by the experience.

[AUTHOR: Hilary Doubleday]

August 14, 2012

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