I love shopping at Farmers Markets & Produce Markets, you feel so much more in touch with who has chosen the vegetables, or in the case of some markets, who has grown the veggies themselves.
Even better, you know the money you pay is either going directly to the farmer, or to a sympathetic, small & caring local who is selling on their behalf or at the very worst, you’re keeping a small & local stall holder & family happy, who most likely shop from smaller farmers, fresh markets & co-ops.
Not so in supermarkets. Especially the Tesco, Asda & Sainsbury’s of the world.
The truth is that large supermarkets have so much power, they can drive down prices (yay you might say!) BUT! They STILL keep the same profit. At what point does the farmer who has poured his life, savings & all his hours into the land break even? Most farmers are hugely in debt, add to this increasingly unreliable weather patterns and the general unpredictable nature of farming and you start to wonder.. At what point will we have to completely rely even more on cheap imports, perhaps from countries with less stringent guidelines on chemicals used to grow crops or animal welfare.
Added to this concern, big supermarkets ship in food from all over the world. Which is why we can eat strawberries in December. But apart from the horrendous miles covered, all these fruits and veg don’t actually taste very nice. This is because they have been picked unripe, and kept in cold storage, to ripen once they hit the supermarket. This means that all the delicious flavours you expect to eat just aren’t there, HUGELY dissapointing if you ask me!
So, bearing all that in mind, here are my top reasons to buy from local markets or businesses.
1. SEASONAL VEGGIES.
The Juiciest, Tastiest & Cheapest Fruit and Veg are to be found when they are in season at your local market. Unlike large supermarkets, they won’t be semi frozen until they get to you to keep them fresh whilst shipping them vast distances, which means their flavour will be so much tastier.
You can have a chat with people who care. It’s nice to do that. You get to know them. They tell you what’s good, what’s not so hot, & what to watch for next week!
It’s almost always cheaper…even exotic veg like avocados are cheaper at the market. Even in chi chi Borough Market I spend less on avocados than I do in my local Tesco. The price mark up that supermarkets charge, to allow for profit on top of huge locations and convenience means that although veggies might seem cheap whilst you are at the supermarket,they most often really are not.
4. LESS WASTE
You can buy the exact amount you need. Just need 2 carrots? Yup. you can do that. A small bunch of herbs. You got it, which equals lest waste. Less waste also means less packaging! I definitely do NOT need more plastic in my life. You probably don’t either.
5. YUMMY & INTERESTING VARIETIES
Variety is the spice of life! You can get tastier varieties of fruit & veg than the supermarket. Heirloom tomatoes that TASTE of tomato, strawberries that smell of sunshine. Plus you can discover fun veggies that supermarkets almost never ever get. When was the last time you saw kohlrabi at Tesco? Exactly.
6. RECIPE IDEAS
If you’re lucky enough to live near a market that serves an expat community, be they from Nepal, Bangladesh, Chile or Ethopia, ask them what they do with the produce that they’re selling. I’ve picked up some of my best recipe advice from markets and have been encouraged to try new veggies and create new dishes with them. I’ve even found out the best way to prep unfamiliar veggies.
7. CHEAP BULK BUYS
At the end of the day, or when fruit & veggies are properly ‘in season’ is the best time to pick up bulk produce at vastly cheaper prices to make jams, chutneys & preserves. Perfect for making huge batches of something delicious to give away at Christmas! Or why not buy up loads of berries & freeze them for smoothies.. or even to make small batches of jam at a later point when you aren’t quite so busy.
Which markets do you love buying your veggies from? And what are your best market buying tips? Let me know in the comments! x