This time of year warmer weather brings our taste buds a variety of in-season produce to liven up our plates.
As we all look to squeeze more out of our budgets, one of the best kept secrets for fresh produce at reasonable prices is your local farmer’s market. Unsure where your nearest farmer’s market is? Try searching on LocalHarvest.org for farmers and markets near you.
Buying local from a farmer’s market has many advantages: prices are competitive and the food is picked at its peak ripeness, making for one tasty bargain. Farmer’s markets often give you the opportunity to “try before you buy”.
Samples are common, giving you the opportunity to compare produce from each vendor then choose your favorite. It is interactive for the family and can be a great place to introduce kids to a variety of unique fruits and vegetables.
In addition to produce, many local farmers bring their free-range eggs, fresh milk, cheese, homemade breads, local honey, and grass-fed beef to sell.
Local markets also provide you the opportunity to talk to the growers and find out more on how the food was grown. Many consumers hoping to get a deal on organic produce seek farmers that are using organic methods to farm but choose not to submit to the process required to legally use the term “organic”.
Understanding the labeling regulations for organic and natural products can be confusing, consider these tips when purchasing:
- Food labeled “100% organic” will contain no synthetic ingredients and can legally use the USDA organic seal.
- Food labeled “organic” has a minimum of 95% organic ingredients and is eligible to use the USDA organic seal.
- Foods labeled “natural” contain no added colors, artificial ingredients, and should undergo minimal processing. However, they do not guarantee the food contains no hormones or antibiotics or that it is organic.
Still unsure if going organic is worth the cost? The Environmental Working Group has created a list to help consumers priorities what to buy organic. For the complete list of foods most susceptible to pesticide residue, check out their website here.