Kendra Walling, SPCC WIC Nutritionist As an SPCC WIC Nutritionist, Kendra is able to share her expertise and love for healthy eating with families throughout Ontario, Wayne, Yates, Seneca, and Eastern Monroe counties.
It’s Farmers Market season…Yeah Yeah Yeah!!! Why am I excited for the farmers markets this year? There are so many reasons why I cannot wait to go to the local markets! Let me tell you a few…
A couple of years ago I worked with a program that allowed me to frequent farmers markets and promote nutrition education. It really doesn’t get better than having part of your work day be outside in the warm summer sun sharing information that you love with people in your community (sometimes even dressed up as a carrot or a tomato, ha!).
Traveling around to the different markets allowed me to see that each market is run a little bit differently and each location has unique community characteristics that all contribute to the ultimate farmers market experiences. Each market has different vendors too, the products ranged from fruits and vegetables (of course!) to local honey, handmade products, and some direct sale businesses depending on what the market allowed. Each year the vendors change and the markets grow with more options and events that are fun for a variety of ages!
Another reason why I love farmers markets is because they allow for very different experiences than shopping at grocery stores. I love being outside, especially on the bright days filled with warmth and sunshine. Seeing the vivid colored produce available and the smiling faces of everyone enjoying the weather that we don’t always have in Upstate NY make a trip to the market more rewarding! Even the rainy days have their own sense of enjoyment with the comradery of braving the weather and the laughter that comes with all of the puddles to jump in! The effort that goes into putting a market together for the season and even setting up for just the afternoon shows the pride and commitment that the market managers and vendors have for the products and experience that they are providing to communities. Usually, the prices are so much better too, and you can’t beat that bonus!
I could just go to the grocery store and pick up some berries as early summer comes along, but there is something different about the taste and satisfaction that comes with berries that aren’t under florescent lights in plastic containers. Farmers markets bring a sense of closeness to the earth and community, a sense of peace that comes from a leisure stroll through a park in the heat of summertime. And that is something that can’t be replicated inside of a bustling supermarket.
This year I am especially excited for farmers market season to start because my husband and I have adopted a new way of eating. We have adopted a whole foods plant-based diet and it has definitely changed our lives. I am learning to cook new recipes and we have more energy than we ever had before (another reason to spend more time outside!). Our dietary changes have focused on whole foods and plant-based nutrition so the farmers markets will be able to supply the majority of what we purchase to eat on a regular basis and we will be able to find unique options that aren’t always available at the grocery store. I can’t wait to see what we will be able to find at the farmers markets this year!
As farmers market season begins this year, it will be different for my family though because I am not able to go to the farmers markets as often as a part of my day at work. Instead it will become a planned decision to make sure that we are able to attend the market on the day of the week and time that they are open. A lot of markets have machines that let you use SNAP (Food Stamps), there are a variety of markets and vendors that accept WIC/Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks, and sometimes they even accept debit so having cash on hand isn’t as crucial. The Cornell Cooperative Extension offices in many counties have schedules of the farmers markets in the area and sometimes they even have info on what forms of payment are accepted. Social media is another great way to stay connected on the events and schedules of your favorite markets. I follow a couple local farmers markets through Facebook so I’ll be ready the week that they open and I cannot wait!
I hope that you will find the same joy in perusing the markets on a relaxing sunny day while hunting for the next mouthwatering treat that has come into season in our great state of NY. Let the Farmers Market Season begin!