In the last year, I’ve found myself a new weekend hobby – wandering around my local farmers market. When I started taking more of an interest in what I was eating and where it was coming from, I discovered that I was lucky enough to have a farmers market a short walk away from where I live. Since then, I’ve loved going whenever I can.
Initially, the main draw was the idea of being able to buy fresh organic fruit and vegetables nearby. What it soon became though, was a weekly education in appreciating the value in eating seasonally. Nature is amazing in that it provides the right foods for us when we need it, and a farmers market is where this comes to life right in from of your eyes. E.g. in the winter, when it’s cold, there are a proliferation of root vegetables which are perfect ingredients in the warming soups and stews that are ideal for cold weather. Then in summer, when it’s a bit warmer, that’s when the fruit comes out, full of water to refresh and help you cool down. So, what’s on offer at the market changes throughout the year, reflecting what’s in season and meaning you’re kind of forced to prepare food that’s actually giving your body what it needs to cope with the weather. Right now, there’s no fruit, and there hasn’t been for the last month or so, and the stalls are filled with squashes, parsnips, carrots, so many different varieties of potato, turnips and greens. But with the coming of spring, that’s soon to change.
Walking around the stalls has also opened up my eyes to vegetables that to be quite frank, I’d never heard of, let alone knew how to cook and prepare. While that was a bit scary at first when I stuck to the things I knew, I now like the challenge of trying out different things and working them into recipes. This week for instance, it’s wild garlic (always though garlic came in bulbs, these small green leaves that smell INCREDIBLE are a bit of a revelation) and flower sprouts (is it a flower? is it a brussel sprout? apparently a new superfood traditionally bred by combining brussel sprouts and kale. Who knew?)
And the big, big benefit for me is the taste. I can’t get over how flavoursome everything is and that I can actually taste the freshness. I literally savour every mouthful when I eat (which sounds a bit dramatic but it honestly tastes amazing, you can really taste the flavours in the different veg). You do have to spend a little more time in preparation time though when you’re cooking (with the root veg, you have to properly scrub the dirt off) but at least you know it has come straight from the farm and hasn’t been cleaned up with chemicals so it isn’t too much of a chore.
At my local market, there are also a couple of artisan bakers, farmers selling raw milk, cheese and eggs, an organic butcher, even a chocalatier – a variety of produce you can incorporate into your weekly shop. So, if you’re starting to consider eating organic, seasonal or local foods, farmers markets are the perfect places to dip in, have a bit of a look, taste and maybe buy something and start to explore your own healthy eating journey.