If you haven’t already been shopping at your local farmers market, now is the time to jump in before it is too late. In most areas, the choice and abundance is reaching a peak by Labor Day, with the summer crops coming in strong (you will find tomatoes at nearly every farmers market in the country now) and the fall crops starting to make an appearance.
This summer, I am spending time off the farm at my family’s summer place near Lake George. I was thrilled to find a new farmer’s market in town that is drawing growers from around the Adirondacks and a bit south. It is always strange to find myself on the other side of the table at market, actually being the customer instead of the grower ad having to make choices and pay for produce. As a grower, we usually swap with other producers at the end of market and rarely buy from one another.
As a farmer shopping at a market miles away from my farm, I have learned a few things. As a vegetable grower, it is always hard to see the customers lining up first for the sugar (the bakery table full of cookies etc). And as a customer, I feel the same pull toward that table but try to resist it at least until the end .
I think that the farmers market is still really about the vegetables and your first stop should be at the vegetable stands, the muffins can wait. In my mind, farmers market is about supporting the farmers first. Those are the people who bring you fresh picked super nutritious and perishable vegetables like chard, kale and of course summer tomatoes. The growers cannot bring the vegetables home (unlike the honey and jam producer) and they are really counting on selling most of what they brought. Many of the other products are extras in my mind and can go back in the truck and brought to other markets.
So my advice would be to keep your eyes on the prize, the healthiest and freshest foods you can buy at market which will probably bring you back to the organic vegetable stand every week where you can find greens to fill your stir fries and salad bowls. If you haven’t found a market yet this summer, you should seek one out in the next few weeks while the markets are still loaded with late summer vegetables, you will not be disappointed.