This is the season for apples, homemade breads, pumpkin pie and artisan cheese. Get them all at your local farmers’ markets, which are springing up this fall and winter to feature a bounty of foods. College life doesn’t have to be bland and full of processed foods. Good student health means plenty of fruits, vegetables and fresh whole foods. Buy some fresh veggies, bread and apple cider at the farmers’ market, bring them home to your dorm rooms and have an indoor picnic on the floor.
Why buy food at farmers’ markets?
“Locovores” are people who like to eat food that is grown locally. This food has a small carbon footprint, meaning large amounts of fuel and energy were not used to transport the food from the farm to the consumer. “Eating local has all sorts of benefits from supporting your local farmer in order to increase the production of local foods, to keeping the environment healthy, and, of course, to provide our bodies with the best nutrition,” wrote Selena De Vries in “Eating Local Foods – The Locovore” posted February 23, 2012 on JaimieOliver.com.
While you’re at the farmers’ market, take the opportunity to talk with the person who actually grew or prepared the food. They love to share their methods and recipes. If you want the best selection, go early when the market first opens. If you want a discount, go late when they are closing, because vendors will sell you what they have left cheaply so they don’t have to carry it back home.
College students and farmers’ markets—a good fit
Farmers’ markets “fill a niche created by the growing ranks of conscious consumers in America who want to buy locally and responsibly sourced food and products… With their disproportionately large share of socially conscious citizens, college campuses are a perfect fit for farmers markets,” according to Mother Nature Network in “10 most impressive college farmers markets,” posted June 11, 2012 to www.mnn.com. The top three of the site’s best college farmers’ markets are:
1) Kapiolani Community College in Oahu, Hawaii;
2) College of San Mateo in San Mateo, California; and
3) University of California, Davis in Davis, California.
These markets often have food grown on school-owned land, live music, flowers and plants to decorate your dorm, ethnic foods and live cooking demonstrations.
There’s always fresh food at a farmers market
Eating fresh food is good for your health. Farmers markets have whole foods, artisan products, bakery items and crafts and miscellaneous:
Whole foods—organic raised meats, milk and eggs, whole grains, honey, apples, squash, winter greens like kale and chard, root vegetables like beets and carrots, cranberries, grapes, green beans, cauliflower, dry beans, garlic, figs and dates.
Artisan products—apple cider, cow and goat milk cheese, fruit jams and jellies, preserves and chutneys, microbrews and wines, herbal tinctures.
Bakery—loaf breads from white to hearty Anadama, whole wheat, bread with seeds and nuts, zucchini bread and other baked goods, and of course the staples: apple pie and pumpkin pie.
Crafts and such—candles, flowers and plants, holiday wreaths, spun wool from local sheep, also information on local farms and charities, sign-ups for food co-ops, hay rides, petting zoo, exhibits, classes for crafts or food making.
The best part of a farmers’ market is that you never know what you’re going to find. Have I made you hungry yet?!
Fall farmers’ market recipes
Check online for recipes specifically for foods you can buy seasonally at farmers’ markets. Southern Living has a web page for “24 Fall Farmers’ Market Recipes” using figs, egg plant, apple sage pork chops, butternut squash soup, broccoli slaw, stuffing, homemade pizza and more.
How to find a farmers’ market near you
Check your local grocery store’s message or bulletin board for flyers. Check your town government’s website for local events. Check church notices. Visit online at Agricultural Marketing Service search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/, or www.localharvest.com and www.farmersmarket.com for locations of organic food and farmers markets around the country. Use social media to find fellow locovores and organic food lovers.
Have you visited a farmers’ market? What’s your favorite item? (Mine is real maple syrup!)