(Written by Jenn Rapske, R.H.N.)
I may be a holistic nutritionist and a total food nerd, so it will come as no surprise that I LOVE THE FARMERS MARKET!
I eagerly wait for Saturday morning to roll around, so I can enjoy my almond milk latte while I shop my local farmer’s market. Some days, I almost have to pinch myself because I am so grateful to have access to many of the best local organic farmers and produce in town. Vancouver, we are blessed to live in this abundant city! I love the farmers market for so many reasons, and today, I am going to share a few of them with you.
How many of you get bored with the same old grocery store hustle, looking at the same items week after week, trying to figure out what’s for dinner? It’s frustrating. I think part of the reason is because the seasons are not reflected in the grocery store. Nature is beautiful and generous in its offerings to us. Adopting local, seasonal eating habits connects us to those earthly rhythms, attuning our bodies more closely to our geography and climate. When we are disconnected from the seasons and shop the grocery store for all of our needs, we can get stuck eating the same foods all year round. Luckily, nature never intended this and provides us with an endless parade of foods that change from week to month to season. The point here is that by incorporating a monthly or even a weekly trip to your farmers market, you will begin to eat locally and with the seasons. You will benefit from a natural rotation of foods in your diet as nature intended. This limits boredom and creates excitement when something new becomes available. But, beware! Eating with the seasons can create a mild and fleeting depression when it comes time to say goodbye to your favorite seasonal offerings, like the tangy rhubarb of spring. But how exciting it is, when you meet again the following year.
When we adopt a local, seasonal diet we have the opportunity to eat foods at the peak of their season. They are not picked raw and gassed to ripen to the grocer’s agenda, but are offered on nature’s timeline that answers only to the perfect harmony of germination and climate conditions. This means that our food travels less and because of this, it contains more nutrients and it is literally bursting with flavor. The most profound example of this point is sampling a grocery store Roma tomato from a far off country, and comparing it to a summer heirloom variety from the local farmers market. My guess is the grocery store option will need A LOT of salt, and the local heirloom will create a sense of euphoria.
When was the last time you were able to listen to a local artist, pet a dog, say hi to a farmer, AND get your face painted, all the while checking off items on your grocery list? For me, this happens every Saturday (except for the face painting). Grocery and specialty food stores are a necessary part of modern life, as there are items we just can’t live without like avocados, lemons, and brown basmati rice. However, farmers markets are the light at the end of the monotonous grocery store tunnel. By shopping your local farmers market you not only support sustainable farming and local businesses, but also you will have fun and become an active participant in your community. Who knows, you might even make a few new friends?
If you’re a fan of the farmers market, you are already practicing an element of local, seasonal eating and reaping the many health-enhancing benefits. However, if you have not had the chance to experience your local farmers market yet, I’d highly recommend that you make a special trip. Our farmers markets boast the best produce the lower mainland has to offer. For more information and to find a market near you, please visit https://eatlocal.org/
Written by Jenn Rapske, R.H.N.
Jenn currently works as an Academic Advisor and instructor at CSNN Vancouver.