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Friday, July 30, 2010

Foodie Friday: Tips for a Tranquil Farmers' Market Experience

Hello readers of Tranquility du Jour! As a long-time follower of this blog, I am delighted to be here as a contributing food writer. I have always been passionate about food, and, in recent years, have cultivated a greater awareness of how the food we eat affects our bodies and the earth. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to explore these interests with this wonderful community, starting with today's post on creating a tranquil farmers' market experience. Please let me know if there's a food-related topic you'd like to see featured here!

Tips for a Tranquil Farmers' Market Experience
As August approaches, many of the earth's fruits and vegetables are at their peak, making it the perfect time to enjoy the rich bounty of your local farmers' market. Thanks to a growing awareness of the sustainable food movement, most cities now boast at least one farmers' market (if not several). With a few savvy steps, you can infuse your trip to the farmers' market with style, intention, and grace.

1. Carry cash and a chic eco-friendly bag.
When planning a trip to the farmers' market, give yourself a budget and be sure to bring cash, since many vendors don’t accept credit or debit cards. Some vendors may offer bags, but why not carry your own reusable bag to reduce waste and express your personal market-going style? Try an organic cotton tote or indulge your inner eco-diva with a quirky number made from recycled materials.

2. Think seasonal.
Because farmers' markets feature almost exclusively local fare, they’re great places to find fruits and vegetables currently in season in your area. Eating local, seasonal food is not only good for the environment (because it eliminates the need to transport out-of-season food thousands of miles around the globe), it also enables you to purchase food before it loses vital nutrients. Plus – as anyone who’s ever savored a ripe and juicy tomato straight from the farmers' market can attest – fresh food simply tastes better! Before your next market foray, research what’s in season near you. The Natural Resources Defense Council offers a searchable guide, via Sustainable Table.

3. Ask questions.
Not sure what that curly green vegetable is? Wondering what kind of apples are best for apple pie? Or the difference between a young chevre and an aged pecorino? Unless you’re Alice Waters, a trip to the farmers market can be a tad intimidating. But don’t be deterred! In my experience, most vendors are not only happy to answer questions, but downright eager to talk about their products with those who show a genuine interest. Plus, by building relationships with your vendors, you'll gain a better sense of what's involved in the production process, building a stronger connection to the source of your nourishment.

4. Allow yourself to be inspired.
Practically speaking, a trip to the farmers' market is a fabulous way to support local farmers and buy delectable fresh food at a reasonable price. Yet, it can also be an artful retreat from your daily routine. With the plethora of sights, sounds, and scents to behold, the market is awash in sensual bits of inspiration. Notice the vibrant sheen of the eggplants. Enjoy the colorful hues of a wildflower bouquet. Savor the sweet aroma of fresh basil. Treat your market jaunt as a play date with your senses, and as muse for your next creative project - in the kitchen or beyond.

5. Create a tranquil ritual.
Whether you go solo or in the company of others, a trip to the market can be part of a tranquil ritual. Wake up early in the morning to sip green tea or soy chai as you watch the sun rise. Don comfortable attire and engage in a few yoga poses, or perhaps your morning meditation. Make your way to the market, and engage fully in the experience (see #4 above), perhaps enjoying a ripe organic peach or freshly baked almond croissant as you browse. Return home with your purchases to cook a nourishing market-inspired meal. (The gorgeously photographed Fresh from the Farmers' Market cookbook is filled with lovely ideas.) Be thankful for the fresh and delicious food that feeds your body and soul. Bon apetit!

Analiese is a twenty-something writer, yogini, and aspiring organic chef, based in the Washington, DC area. She writes about food, holistic health, and creative living on her blog, Tulips & Tea.

Photos of Anne Arundel County Farmers' Market by Analiese

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Anonymous said...

Great post, Analiese! I'm such a Farmers' Market lover.

The website Local Harvest [ ] is a great resource for anyone who might not know where the nearest Farmers' Market is to them. There's an option to search for markets by zip code right on the home page.

Carolyn said...

What a fantastic post Analiese!! I adore my local Farmer's Market!!

Analiese said...

Thanks ladies! Caiti, you're absolutely right about Local Harvest. It is a great resource! Thanks again for the feedback.

Robyn Thompson said...

ani! you are the perfect one to take over my foodie-friday posts! i LOVE hearing about all of your foodie insights... happiness to you as a newlywed! xoxoxo.

Carl Bendorf said...

Great post. Made me hungry!