GO IN WITH A PLAN… BE WILLING TO PIVOT
Pretend it’s August in California, and you’re hankering to make a kabocha squash stew, so you gather your reusable grocery totes and get yourself over to the farmers’ market. While I have to inform you gently that you’re a little “off” seasonally, let’s start with small victories! Not only did you score prime parking, you also actually have real live cash with you, for the first time in literally forever. You quickly note the utter absence of winter squash, and it kooks like everyone is swarming the tomato tables. They must be on to something, hmm. So you load up your canvas tote with five pounds of tomatoes. You end up with the most refreshing gazpacho you’ve ever tasted. Keep returning to the farmers’ market over and over, and you’ll be eating seasonally in no time. And you still ended up with a soup, see?
TALK WITH THE FARMERS
Sometimes they’ll tell you, no, don’t get that, get this. I would follow the recommendations of the person who grew it! In talking with the farmers, you get an idea of how the season is going for them, what’s growing well and what isn’t. Don’t see something you want? Ask for it specifically. You’d be surprised. I use edible violets in my food photography, and sometimes these are hard to find. One time at SF Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, I straight up asked a farmer, do you have any of those edible violets, and I kid you not. He bent over and reached deep into one of those Coleman coolers and reemerged with a small restaurant takeout container packed to the brim with my edible flowers. We have to ask for what we want, folks.
ASK: WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH THIS?
Accompany this sentence with the awkward gesture of your arm raising the mysterious object. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up something weird-looking while asking this question, only to have it become my favorite new ingredient of the season—think kohlrabi, sunchoke, Buddha hand, quince. I’ve learned so many great cooking and preparation tips directly from the farmers from the time my eyes glazed over while listening to the nine million hours of quince preparation to the first time someone described artichoke prep to me. (Suffice it to say I’ve still never worked with a quince.)
Like any other healthy habit, it’ll really pay off if you manage to get to the farmers’ market as often as you can. That way, with your finger on the pulse of things, you start to get an authentic feel for how long the seasons last. When you notice the persimmon stash is looking more and more scant each week, you know to beeline straight to the boxes and buy them all up! You’ll also notice gems like purple bell peppers—I’ve never seen one of those in a conventional supermarket!
Sourcing from your local farmers’ market is the cornerstone of my Empower Program for wellness. Other elements of the program include The Great Kitchen Sweep, Go Paperless, Your Very Own Chopped Kitchen, and more Find out more here!
Do you shop regularly at a farmers’ market? Which one is your favorite? Do you live in a place where you wish you could go to a farmers’ market, but you don’t know where to find one? What percentage of your weekly produce haul comes from the farmers’ market vs the conventional grocery store? How do you feel about farmers’ market pricing? Is it too expensive, too cheap, or right on? Let’s share our farmers’ markets experiences in the conversation below.