Waking up on Saturday morning is never difficult for me. Knowing that I get to spend my day doing something I love, without any schedule or task list, is enough to pull me out of the deepest slumber and slip on a pair of jeans to start the day. And not those stiff, work appropriate jeans, I mean the denim that is soft from years of wear, with faded knees and pockets. I slip on my favorite sweater, a cream cable-knit, passed down from my mother’s closet and slip out the front door to go to my happy-place; the Farmer’s Market.
The first few times I got lost, mostly because I spent so much time looking at the beautiful brick colonials lining the streets of Fredericksburg, instead of looking at street signs, but now I know right where to go. I find a close parking space because it will take couple trips to the carry all of my fresh produce to the car before I leave. I walk past the fresh flowers, they always smell so good, through tents filled with colorful produce, and past the little-old- lady selling freshly home-baked goods; I am on a mission. I always get my eggs first because they sell out the most quickly, after I’ve gotten my organic, pasture-fed eggs, I can leisurely stroll around for any other items I desire…but I have to have those eggs. The yolks are huge, with a beautiful golden-yellow glow, and they taste so much different from those white eggs at the store, there’s just no comparison.
If the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) folks are at the market, I like to stop there early to see if they have any whole, free-range chickens for sale. Like the eggs, the grass-fed chicken is so much more flavorful and rich than that sold at the grocery store. Chickens naturally eat grass, as opposed to the normal grain mix fed to factory-raised chickens, so the meat from grass-fed birds is filled with Omega 3’s, while the grain-fed animal is higher in Omega 6’s. While we need both essential fatty acid, the average Western diet gets 10-30 times too much of Omega 6’s, which leads to inflammation and disease. Most of these Omega 6’s come from processed foods, but also from grain-fed meat, searching out grass-fed meat is a much more nourishing alternative. The farmer’s market is a great place to get these nourishing meats, as they sell grass-fed beef, lamb, and pork most Saturday mornings. Because we’ve already gotten our share of beef and pork from local grass-fed farmers, I’m only in search of organic, grass-fed chicken at the farmer’s market.
Before I get my vegetables, I also search out a nice big slab of butter from grass-fed cows, it’s so comforting to know that I am not ingesting any of the hormones or steroids that the conventionally raised cows are exposed to. Toxins are stored in the cow’s fat, so any toxin they have been exposed to, you will likely be in jesting them yourself. Grass-fed butter is also higher in Vitamin A, E, and Carotene, and it’s butter, so you know it’s good. On my way to get my veggies, I stop to get local, raw honey, as it helps ease my allergies and gives my tea more dimension. If it’s the right time of year, I’ll also get a gallon of beautiful, freshly pressed apple cider in an old-fashioned glass jug…it’s such a treat on cool, Autumn mornings.
Finally, my fruits and veggies. This is where I go a little crazy (crazier than normal…I like to keep a healthy level of crazy in my life). As always, there are many tents filled with gorgeous produce to choose from, the produce that is organic or local is usually marked as such. I usually visit all of the local and organic farmers and get the items that look the best, I let the food inspire me. It is hard to go to the farmer’s market with a list because you never know when you’ll see a new vegetable that speaks to you (it’s Veggietales for grown-ups). It’s like Christmas…surprises around every corner. It doesn’t take long to learn which vegetables grow during which season, let your menu change with the season and your table be inspired by fresh, local produce. After my fatality of a garden last year, I was very glad to have other experienced, talented farmers and gardeners to my rescue. Although my garden didn’t produce enough to feed my little family of two, the local farmers keep nourishing food on my table, all year-long.
In the grocery store this week, I heard a mother tell her daughter “No, you won’t like it,” in regards to Greek yogurt, my sister has heard a mother reject her daughter’s request for broccoli and tell her she wouldn’t eat it. Well, it’s a guarantee that those beautiful little girls won’t like Greek yogurt or broccoli, because they were never given a chance to try. Sure, they MIGHT not like it, but let them be the ones to decide. It is also a lot of fun to watch kids at the market, all of the tables are at their eye level and it’s okay to reach out and pick something up, touching and smelling is all part of the experience. Maybe bring just one child at a time to make it more enjoyable for you, give them their own little market bag and have a food adventure. Give them a few dollars of their own and let them take ownership of their choice of healthy food and make them a part of the process of creating a meal to share with the family.
It’s a little chilly out right now so there may only be a few venders at the farmer’s market, but you can guarantee that as soon as it warms up just a few degrees, the farmer’s markets all over the country will be filled with nourishing food to fill your family’s bellies. EAT LOCAL!
To find out more about the Fredericksburg Farmer’s Markets visit : http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/Departments/CityManager/index.aspx?id=692
To find out about a Farmer’s Market near you, visit: www.localharvest.org
To find out more about where to buy grass-fed meat in your area go to: www.eatwild.com