September 5, 2012

7 Reasons Why I Love the Farmer's Market

Living in California's central valley means we have the vast majority of the country's best produce available to us in abundance at multiple local farmers' markets. My favorite here in Sacramento is the Sunday market under the freeway at 8th & W. I am told this is one of the biggest markets in the state, although I can't confirm that.

There are plenty of reasons to love the farmer's market....these are the 7 reasons I think it's so great:

1. Fresh, local and often organic produce, meats, dairy and more - Although this may seem obvious not everyone is so lucky to have a local farmer's market at all, let alone nearly everyday of the week. I'm sure at least some of you have spent time in areas where produce isn't so readily available, or if it is, it's certainly not as fresh. Being removed from it will make you realize how lucky we are to have it year round.

2. Inspiration - There have been many occasions as I saunter through the market on a Sunday morning when I see something I've never seen before or something that looks interesting. I may leave the market not knowing quite what I'm going to do with it until I can do a Google recipe search to find out. This works in reverse too, sometimes I come to the market with a recipe in hand and buy as many things as I can at the market to cook it.

3. Seasonal knowledge - If you shop the market often enough and year round, you will most certainly develop knowledge of what's in season. Additionally, if you're shopping at the market year round, you are eating what's in season too, which typically means the produce you're buying has more nutrients because it is fresher.

4. Sense of community - People working and shopping at the market are just friendly. The crowd forces you to get close people and often talk to them. I've often heard other shoppers ask "what's this?" and the other shoppers around them volunteer information. Also, who better ask "how do you cook this" than the farmer who grew it? At the market that farmer is usually right behind the stand.

5. Hybrids and variety - Lemon cucumbers, pluots, purple carrots, fresh herbs, yellow watermelon....these aren't things you will typically see in a grocery store. And at the market, you can pretty much taste anything you want, just ask.


6. Prices - The market is cheap. I don't know if people don't realize this or what, but by shopping at the market you're essentially cutting out the middle man. Three bunches of cilantro for $1, a bunch of mint for 50 cents, 30 eggs for $7, pluots, peaches, plums and nectarines for $1.50/lb.....these are all real prices happening right now at the Sunday market. If someone can tell me a grocery store in town that sells produce as fresh and local as this at these prices, please share.

7. Taste - Once you start eating produce from the market on a regular basis there is no going back. In my opinion, even organic produce from high end grocery chains can't compare. Market buys are better, fresher and last way longer. The only thing that might beat it is something you grow in your own garden.

I would encourage anyone to visit their local farmer's market, get in the crowd, grab your goods and don't be afraid to ask questions. My only other suggestion is to bring your own disposable grocery bags to make it easier to haul the load you are likely to purchase. Also, don't forget cash; $20 will go a long way at the market. Here is some additional scoop on the markets local to Sacramento:

Tuesday Fremont Park Market - This is another great little lunchtime market with good lunch food available too, like tamales for $2! This is also a nice shady park that is a great spot for enjoying your lunch. Location is 16th and P, hours are 10:00-1:30, open from May-September.

Tuesday Roosevelt Park Market - Another lunchtime park market. Open 10:00-1:30 from May-September.

Wednesday Market at Chavez Plaza - This is a great little lunchtime market in a good people watching venue (they have the tamales too!). They are open from May to October from 10:00-1:30.

Thursday Capitol Mall Farmer's Market - Another one I haven't been to. This is between 5th and 6th on on Capitol Mall and open May-September from 10:00-1:30.

Thursday Capitol Park Market - This market is at the East end of Capitol Park. Open May-September from 10:00-1:30. What better place to enjoy lunch and a mid-day break than Capitol Park?

Thursday Florin Farmer's Market - This market is in front of the Sears store and runs from 8:00-Noon, it is also open year round and accepts EBT.

Saturday Rancho Cordova Market - This is a great little Saturday market with some of the same vendors from the Sunday market and some different vendors as well. I visit this market if I can't make the Sunday market. Both times I have been they have a clown doing balloon animals for the kids and live music. It is open year round, accepts EBT and runs from 8:00-Noon. Location is Folsom & Sunrise near the light rail station.

Saturday Laguna Gateway Market - Open year round, accepts EBT and runs from 8:00-Noon. At Laguna Gateway Center, Laguna & Big Horn Blvd.

Saturday Natomas Farmer's Market - This is in the Target/Sports Authority Shopping center and also accepts EBT. It opened in June and the closing date is TBD, hours 8:00-Noon.

Saturday Oak Park Farmer's Market - I have not visited this market yet, but the reviews look great. They are open Saturday's from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. from May to October and accepts EBT.

Saturday Country Club Plaza Market - I haven't been to this market either but it looks like a good one. If it's close to you, check it out! It's open year round from 8:00-Noon.

Sunday Farmer's Market, 8th & W - This is my favorite market and the one I visit the most. Overall this market is easily the biggest in Sacramento and filled with all kinds of goodies including produce, meats, seafood, cheese, honey, bread & pastries, eggs, herbs, nuts and dried fruits not to mention much, much more. It is also open year round, though less busy in winter. Bring cash, although I believe some of the meat and seafood vendors accept plastic. Also, EBT accepted.



I've linked most of these to Yelp reviews so you can get an idea of what the people think, but you should also check the California Grower's Certified Farmer's Market site to confirm hours and locations as the market's change a bit each year.
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2 comments:

  1. Great post, Sarah - love it. You are so right about living here in Cali. We are so fortunate. :-)

    The Davis Farmer's Market is awesome too. Open every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning (year round). http://www.davisfarmersmarket.org/
    We even have a Davis Farmer's Market cookbook!

    You should join us one Saturday.

    Hugs,
    --Amber

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amber! Thanks for adding the Davis info! We'll have to come out one Saturday!

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