Thursday, May 1, 2014

Farmer's Markets and CSAs

One of the best ways to get fresh produce, if you don't grow your own, is to go to a farmer's market. There is nothing like wandering the market, meeting the growers, trying new items..... The great thing about frequenting a farmer's market is that you can develop relationships with the folks who grow your food. The more you go, talk, and buy, the better insider information you can get. What kind of information? Yummy cooking ideas, what they are bringing next week, even a good giggle or two!

One thing to know about farmer's markets is to get there EARLY. Those in the know understand, this is NOT a supermarket, they don't have "more in the back." So for the widest choices, roll out of bed with the sunrise and hustle to your market. Keep in mind if you show up later in the morning, you can not be upset that someone is out of something.... you snooze, you loose. And keep in mind, farmers sell what is in season and grows local. If you live in Michigan you're not going to nab a pineapple, just saying. And don't show up near the end of the market day expecting to grab a deal. While farmers don't want to haul it all home, they aren't going to give it away either. This is how they make a living, so respect the time and energy they spent growing/making the item.

Another thing to know about farmer's markets is that some farmers will take orders for the following week. So if they tell you they are out of something, don't be surprised if ten seconds later they grab a bag of it from under their table for someone who just walked up.  If you develop a relationship with a seller, you may be able to order too! Don't be offended if you're asked to pay up front. No one wants to get stiffed on perishable items.

So let's say your just not a morning person and you haven't built a relationship with a farmer.... how can you score the same wonderful produce without waking at the butt crack of dawn? Join a CSA!!! What is a CSA you ask? It is Community Supported Agriculture. What that means is the farmer sells "shares" of what they plan to grow. Depending on what is in season, some weeks you will receive more then others. Depending on which farmer you throw in with, you can get all sorts of things from produce and eggs to meat and baked goods. It is a wonderful way to get what you need and support your local farmers. Something to keep in mind: If they have a great year, your share reflects that. But if it is a bad year due to say, drought, well your share will reflect that too. CSA members are not guaranteed X amount each week.

How does one go about finding a CSA? Well you could just ask around your farmer's market. Keep in mind, many farmers sell their share way in advance of the planting season. If you do find a farmer with a CSA at the market, they may not be taking on any new members till the next year. You can also go to the website Local Harvest and "shop" CSAs listed there. The website gives all sorts of great basic CSA information as well as names, contacts, and information on what each CSA typically provides to it members in the way of goods.

So get out there and support your local farmers one way or another my friends. I promise not only is it good food, but it is good time and good friendships too!!!





20 comments:

  1. 1. I love the idea of a CSA. I'd never heard of this before. As I cook more and more, I want to get ingredients as close to the source as I can. And to support local farmers? I'm in.

    2. What's the chicken taste like? I can only imagine it's so much better without whatever it is they do to it when you get it at a supermarket. (I don't want to know).

    3. Maybe it's a sign of aging (or just maturity) that I would love to play hooky from work and go to a farmer's market (and maybe a vineyard afterward).

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    1. CSAs are so wonderful and available so may places if people just know where to start looking. As for the taste of the chicken.... until you have had fresh, I can't even explain! LOL We raised our own turkey last year for Thanksgiving and butchered it the day before..... I will never go back to frozen! And who says you have to be a certain age to enjoy playing hooky *wink* It is just maturity of where you go when you do! LOL

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  2. I'm not sure where your readership is located per-say, but for those in the area, there is a CSA looking for members in the Jackson, MI area, as well as a new farmers market trying to start up in the Howe, IN area. As it is just starting, it's rather small, but I know many of those who're bringing their produce in to the market.

    I was thinking of taking some of my produce, eggs & meat into the farmers market, depending on how many I end up being able to sell per week vs. how many I have remaining.

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    1. My readership is actually across the United States (and a few international as well) but we do have a nice Michigan based following too. Thanks for the info.

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  3. Good tips! Also, if you are looking for bargain prices it pays to go at the end of the day to a farmers' market. :)

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    1. Not our markets. Farmers would rather give their leftover to other vendors who value the product then to have customers think the end of the day is a good time to get a deal.

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  4. We love our farmer's market. :) Thanks for the good tips!

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    1. Betsy we love the one we go to so much we drive 45 minutes just to get there! LOL

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  5. My biggest problem with the Farmer's market is that since we started homeschooling I don't know what day it is half the time and I forget it's market day! LOL

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    1. The one we go to is tue, thur, sat but we only go on sat if and when we go.

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  6. This will be my third summer doing a CSA. I love it! I have more variety in what I eat, I'm supporting a local farm, and I would say it costs about the same as it would if I went to the grocery store.

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    1. CSAs are fun too.... the mystery of unpacking your box of goodies :)

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  7. One thing too is to let your kids enjoy the experience!! My children have been going to farmers markets since they were infants. There are great learning experiences. I included my link to activities we even did to earn Brownie badges - by shopping at the market! :)

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    1. How neat they got badges! We love to pick up a new item each time to try, but we are running out of things we haven't had! LOL

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  8. Great post! Thanks so much for sharing the benefits of CSAs and farmer's markets at the Creative Ways Link Party. I've participated in Bountiful Baskets before, but so far have never been to a farmer's market. I'm missing out...I better get with it ;-) I hope you'll be back with more great tips this week.
    Blessings,
    Nici

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    1. Oh Nici you have not lived till you shopped a farmer's market!!! Fins one and go!

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  9. I love it! YOU have been featured @ Back to the Basics for Tuesdays with a Twist! Thanks so much for sharing with us!

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  10. We LOVE going to the farmer's market on Saturday mornings! It is so much fun to walk around and take everything in as well as get really fresh, excellent quality eggs and produce!

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    1. I love our too! So much to see, do and eat!

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