Alix Ayoub

Farmers Market Frenzy

We are so fortunate to live in a city that supports local produce in such a huge way. Almost every day of the week from late-spring to fall there is a farmers market where you can find delicious, nutritious and Ohio-grown foods to enjoy.

Before you begin your farmers market frenzy this growing season, here are a few tips!

• • • Before You Go • • •

Do Your Homework.

Know what to expect before you get there. OurOhio.org has a fantastic and interactive growing season chart that lets you see what fruits and veggies you can expect to find each month. (Good news! Asparagus, kale, and strawberries are up first in May!) Don’t be disappointed if you get to the market and something you planned to see wasn’t there—remember, nature follows its own rules, and delicious food is well worth the wait.

Plan Your Meals.

It’s so frustrating getting all of your beautiful farmers market goodies home and then watching them spoil during the week because you didn’t know how to incorporate them into your real-life meals. Use your growing season chart to help you plan out a week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks you can make with your produce. Here are a few quick ideas for each meal using ANY veggies you find at the market:

Breakfast:

Make an egg scramble or omelet! Spray a small skillet with nonstick spray. Add your veggies to the skillet and place on medium-high heat. Cook and stir until veggies reach desired doneness. Crack a couple eggs into a bowl. Whisk with a fork. Add eggs to skillet with veggies. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and your favorite herbs. (Oregano is delicious with eggs!) Cook and stir until eggs are done and set.

Lunch:

How about a baked potato? Fill a baked sweet potato with sautéed veggies (like the egg scramble recipe above) and a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese. Make a noodle bowl! Add sautéed veggies to one cup of prepped whole grain noodles and a quarter-cup of feta cheese. (My husband loves this one with hot sauce.) Mix together and enjoy! You can prep a few of these noodle bowls in advance and have your lunches prepped for the whole week.

Dinner:

Grill them! Lay a piece of foil out on the counter. Chop your veggies into uniform pieces. Lay them on the foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold the foil into a packet with the veggies inside. Place on the grill and cook for 15-20 minutes or until veggies reach desired doneness. Make a pizza! Make a whole wheat pizza crust, grab your favorite sauce and top it with a little cheese and a lot of veggies! Again, you can precook your veggies so that they are done to your liking. If you haven’t tried a pizza topped with grated sweet potato and kale yet, you need to!

• • • While You Shop • • •

Bring Your Shopping Bags.

Providing plastic shopping bags or giving away containers to customers is an expense a farmer should not have to pay. They already paid for the gas it took to get their produce to you, not to mention all the other expenses it took to grow the food. It takes $1 and less than one minute to purchase and remember to bring a reusable shopping bag to the market with you. Bring two if you are planning a big trip!

TALK with your farmer!

Knowing where your food comes from and making a personal connection with what you put on your plate is the major advantage of shopping at a farmers market instead of a grocery store. Save your Instagram shots of your fresh produce for later and instead talk with the person who grew your food. You are definitely not going to let that broccoli go to waste if you knew that your farmer had to overcome a drought for the past month to get it there. Also, just because it’s at the market does NOT mean it is organic. Ask questions! Get informed! Make connections!

• • •  Also keep in mind• • •

You can get your dairy and meat there, too!

I could write a whole other article about the kinds of things you are consuming when you eat these products—instead, I’ll just tell you that the more meat and dairy products you can purchase at the farmers market, the better. This is something to research purchasing online from local farmers so you can pick them up at the market during your weekly visit.

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