Why Farmer’s Markets May Not Be For Everyone

I recently took a trip to Seattle visiting their popular Pike Place Market. There was a huge selection of products for sale. I can still remember walking through it smelling fresh seafood, grilled cheese sandwiches and even beautiful floral bouquets. This was my kind of farmer’s market! Have you been to your local farmer’s market? These days it’s not just about supporting local farmers, but about bringing a community together for local businesses to showcase their goods whether it involves food or not. Not sure if farmer’s markets are for you? Read more to find any “disadvantages” of what I have experienced at these markets.

Interactive shopping

Not only can you enjoy shopping outdoors, vendors sell their products on a more personal basis. They will be right there waiting to give you free samples along with information about what they are selling. It’s always great to try something before buying it. And If you have any questions about the product, they are there to answer them. I love learning more about the food that I eat.

Rare finds on deals when compared to your grocery store

My daughter loves blueberries and they are best purchased fresh when in season. I found that the best deals for these berries are in late summer at farmer’s markets and they are even available in larger portions! Not only do they taste so sweet and juicy, you’ll get the most nutrients from them since they were more ripely picked. When produce is high in supply and at its ripest, the sellers may be compelled to lower their prices to unload them quickly before they spoil.

Shorter shelf life

Ever notice when you pick plants from your garden the food doesn’t last as long as store bought produce? They may not be as crisp the next day or grow moldy unexpectedly. Having the convenience of a garden is being able to harvest the plant minutes before eating or preparing it in a meal instead of storing it in your fridge until it’s ready to be used. Produce are able to be picked closer at their ripened stage from local farms selling at the market because they don’t have to go through lengthy transportation commutes. This makes their produce life expectancy shorter than the ones found at your grocery store. 

Don’t expect to find all produce “Certified Organic”

You might be surprised to learn how close farms are located near your city. These farms may produce on a smaller scale and most likely not certified in labelling their products “organic”. I once asked a lady at her vendor if her carrots were grown organically because I wanted to buy a big bag for juicing. She replied that the cost of the carrots would probably be double in price if they were to be sold as organic. Even if farms do not use any chemical fertilizers and pesticides, it takes years for the soil to turn over into being qualified for growing organic produce. Labeling a food “Certified Organic” comes with a higher price due to the cost of getting and maintaining that certification. 

Limited availability

If you’re like me, I can easily get hooked on certain foods. For instance, there is a certain kombucha that I love made with green tea and less natural sugars in all their flavours. There have been days where I was prepared to fill up my growler only to find that they were not present at the market on that particular day. Unfortunately, you may find the availability of certain products inconsistent or nonexistent. In addition, outdoor farmer’s markets are seasonal and not available all year round.

Impulsive purchases

Free samples are the best way to attract customers. Just like my previous kombucha example, I made an unplanned purchase of maple syrup. After trying some samples, the seller asked which one l preferred in taste. I answered honestly that I couldn’t really taste a difference. He then recommended the dark syrup because it is the most concentrated in minerals when compared to the light or medium syrups. When you learn more about the health benefits of a product, you are more likely to buy it.

It’s not just about food

Supporting local businesses benefits them, our community and us as the consumers. Be prepared to spend a little more money and time shopping compared to a typical store. Conversing with the local business vendors and trying out samples all come with the experience. It’s a great way to get outdoors in the fresh air and learn more about the goods they are selling. 

I personally love shopping at farmer’s markets, however it may not be for everyone. As fall approaches, farmer’s markets are coming near to full harvest mode until the end of the season. If you are still unsure about them check out the nearest one to your home before the season ends, you might just like it! If not, more grocery stores proudly display signs that promote local products so make sure you support local when you can.

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant