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market tip: get to know your farmers


Welcome to the August 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Farmer’s Markets
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about something new they’ve learned about their local farmers.
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Image Credit: from a local article about “gleaning”

Have you ever looked into where your food comes from? Have you spoken to a farmer who cultivated one part of your meal today? These are questions I couldn’t have answered well just a few short years ago. We began our intentional food journey by joining a vegetable CSA when we lived in Virginia. It was gratifying to know we were helping to support a farm, and we would run home with giddy excitement on CSA day to find a crate of veggies on our porch.

When we moved to Massachusetts, we weren’t satisfied by simply having the food dropped off on our step. We wanted to know our farmers, by name if possible, and know the ins and outs of the farm itself. We choose to buy the bulk of our fresh meat and produce straight from two local farms so that we know the farmers and their process and support them both.

In summer time, we pick up the remainder of our fresh food at our farmer’s market. Prior to this month, I couldn’t tell you anything about those farms apart from the name and spot in the parking lot where they were each located. I could tell you which one had my favorite bread but not what ingredients the farmer used to bake it.

Then I was reading Barbara Kingsolver’s great non-fiction book, and she pointed out the importance of asking questions of the farmers at the market to find out which stands are local farmers versus produce wholesalers. The same week I was flipping through Local Flavors, one of my favorite seasonal cookbooks, and Deborah Madison made the same point about the need for researching the farmers. Here’s another quick article (from Reader’s Digest of all places) that gives some good pointers about shopping at farmers markets and includes the “get to know your farmer” idea. I tucked away the notion and continued to shop without asking.

With some luck, the carnival gave me the same challenge this month. I took it as a sign that I should do some investigating and finally did. I should have known how much fun it would be! I spoke to many farmers and found out about their farming/cooking practices. I learned about how lettuce is planted all summer long in Massachusetts to keep it from turning bitter. I discovered my bakers grind their own specialty flour to keep it free of bleach, bromine, and other chemicals. I found out my jam lady has been making jam since she was a child.

Perhaps most importantly, by connecting with the farmers, I wove myself into the patchwork of passionate local food creators, becoming a part of the communal tapestry and hopefully making it all the stronger. I’m an ardent supporter of locally grown food, firmly believing it to be more integral to my family table than the organic label, which can and is unfortunately twisted and distorted to fit the corporate mindset. Local food is sustainable food, and while that may not be an official distinction, it is measurable and observable, in community profits, social gain, and environmental stewardship.

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Local honey and jam to slather on the loaf of big crusty local bread I bought.

If you’re not already a farmers market convert, I encourage you to get out there and support them. I try to attend at least one a week but sometimes more depending on my grocery needs and the weather. Speaking of weather, it should be noted that your local farmers need you to show up on rainy days more than ever; they take a big hit to already slim profit margins on days of bad weather. My kids love nothing more than to don their rain boots, so we can often be found stomping puddles at the market.

For first-timers, the basic rules are to bring your own bags and plenty of cash, and as I can now firmly attest to, don’t be afraid to ask questions! You can’t know what interesting or amazing things you might learn unless you ask. When you do, be sure to come back and share them with me.

Editor’s note: This post is part of Freaky Friday Works for Me Wednesday Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Real Food Wednesdayand Monday Mania

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • 10 Simple Ways to Make the Farmer’s Market More Fun for Kids — Lorie at Reading Confetti shares ideas and books to help kids get the most from the farmers market experience.
  • 10 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter About The Importance of Shopping at the Farmer’s Market — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares the ten lessons she hopes to impart to her daughter about the importance of shopping at local farmers markets.
  • Charmed by Two Small Town Markets — Shannon at GrowingSlower was charmed by two small-town farmers markets while on vacation.
  • The Olympia Farmer’s Market (and a giveaway!) — Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes and family took a trip to their state capitol to experience a new market. See what they saw, and enter to win a book written about that very market.
  • — Exploring the farmers market by Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy writing at Natural Parents Network — with a scavenger hunt!
  • Exploring the Market … Alphabet StyleThat Mama Gretchen is in the midst of creating a learning tool for her toddler and it’s all about the market!
  • Unschooling at the Farmers Market — Megz at Aspen Mama loves building memories as a vendor at the Market.
  • Montessori-Inspired Vegetable Unit — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares links to Montessori-inspired vegetable printables and activities to help your family get the most out of a trip to the farmer’s market.
  • Markets — How sustainable mum has fitted a monthly farmers market into a weekly food shop.
  • The Farmers Market In Under An Hour (“Carl Style”) — Andrea and family at Tales of Goodness adapt their farmers marketing approach to make everyone happy.
  • Tales Of a Troubled Gardener — Sam at Love Parenting writes about her dream of self-sufficiency and her lack of gardening skills!
  • A Few {Of The Many} Reasons Why I Love Our Farmer’s Market — Even though the experience can sometimes be less than peaceful, MomeeeZen shares why she enjoys taking her family to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
  • Experiencing the Farmer’s Market from a Different Perspective — Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM had a great time letting her toddler lead the way at the farmer’s market…
  • Ask A Farmer’s Daughter — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter answers questions about her life growing up on a small family farm in New England.
  • Giving Up the Grocery Store — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares her family’s summertime challenge to eliminate trips to the grocery store and rely almost exclusively on local, farm-fresh foods.
  • Urban farming and fresh food in the city — Lauren at Hobo Mama takes trips to farms, gardens, and markets within reach of a big city.
  • Market Tip: Get to Know Your Farmers — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finally gets up the guts to talk to her farmers and learns she is among ardent food lovers.
  • New Farmer’s Market Find — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is excited to make a new find at her new farmers market.
  • “The Real World” Grassroots Edition — jessica at instead of institution takes some time out to write a love note.
  • 9 Insider Tips for Farmer’s Market Newbies — Dionna at Code Name: Mama chatted with a few farmers to bring you some insider information on how to get the most out of your local farmer’s market.
  • The Place Where I Can Say “Yes!” — Erica at ChildOrganics gives you a tour of her favorite vendors at her local farmers market and discusses the benefits of creating community through the market.
  • Raw Local Milk — Jorje shares her family’s field trip to a local dairy. Learn what you can appreciate from a small town farm at Momma Jorje.com
  • Italian Secret Vegetable Soup Recipe — Alinka at Baby Web convinces an Italian Farmer & Cook to reveal a precious minestrone recipe and shares it with her readers.
  • Where do our eggs come from? A visit to Sucellus Farms. — Carli at One Fit Mom takes her family to meet the chickens that have been providing their daily eggs.
  • Beyond the Farm — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy and her family enjoy looking beyond the food at the local farmer’s market to see the wares of the over vendors.
  • Magic at the Market — Do you ever take time to really look at the food you eat? Amy at Anktangle enjoys marveling at the beauty (and the utility) of the foods and goods available at the farmers’ market.
  • Farmer’s Market Discoveries — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen reminisces about the discoveries she’s made at the Farmer’s Market throughout the years.
  • Are You Getting the Most out of Your Farmers’ Market? (My List of Not-So-Common “Musts”) — Sheila at A Living Family shares some uncommon ways to squeeze even more joy and connection (and yumminess!) from your local farmers’ market experience.
  • Pick Your Own And Eat It — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares their trip to a PYO farm and the journey from picking to eating her favourite food
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