Staying Stylish in Suburbia

Local Love- Farmer's Market Fun!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

For a while now the local food movement has been concentrating on the environmental benefits of buying locally grown food. It not only lessens your carbon footprint but it also strengthens the local economy. That's all well and good, but as a mother of two there are a couple of other hugely important reasons that I like to visit the Farmer's Market whenever I can. Simply put, it's the overall experience (for myself and for my children) that makes me go loco for local food. 

Kid's are curious creatures, easily susceptible to the targeted marketing schemes of big name brands. If you've ever walked through a chain grocery store with a child before then you know how much sugary, processed temptation there is out there. An article put out by the Yale Rudd Center states that, "Food marketing to children and adolescents is a major public health concern. The food industry spends $1.8 billion per year in the U.S. on marketing targeted to young people. The overwhelming majority of these ads are for unhealthy products, high in calories, sugar, fat, and/or sodium." I can certainly attest to that. I have to mentally prepare myself before stepping inside those sliding glass doors. Almost immediately I begin chanting the grocery store mantra of, "No you can't have that, or that, or that..." And it's not like I'm some crazy health nut that insists my children eat carob instead of chocolate. I just don't think my three year old needs marshmallows in her cereal. Is that so wrong!?

At the farmers market on the other hand, I am transformed from the mom who always says no to the mom who almost always says yes! It is equally full of fun surprises but without all the flashy trickery. My child's eyes widen at the sight of a basket of ripe blackberries and that's just what they are, plain and simple, picked straight from the bush. Even the canned products are without an abundance of extra ingredients. Walking through the various venders, we learn what is growing on the farms around us. We are also reminded of what we ourselves can do. Whether it's bread making or canning, I always come away from the market inspired to try my hand at making something new.  

It's a little like going on a treasure hunt. You might have an idea of what's in season but there is always something beautifully unexpected to be found, like the purple pepper we discovered on a recent trip to the Farmer's Market with friends. Instead of sampling cookies, Esmae sampled spinach with vinaigrette with a smile on her face. How great is that!? 

I'm not sure how to explain it except to say that there is a sense of adventure and community when you buy locally that makes it feel like more than just a shopping trip. The farmers themselves are eager to talk to the kids about their products and it becomes more about discovering and learning than just marketing and labels. When we go, we often like to make an afternoon of it. We'll get there around ten o'clock in the morning, do our shopping and then spread a blanket out for a little farmer's market picnic lunch, right there on the grass. 

Here are a few pictures from our latest farmer's market adventure with friends...

If you are local to the NOVA area and have yet to pay a visit to the Old Town Manassas Farmer's Market, I highly recommend it. There is a stationary train car that the kiddos can play on. They also get a thrill from watching the real trains roll by from up there. On Thursdays the market is held in the pavilion and on Saturdays it is in the parking lot directly across the train tracks. Also, starting today you can enjoy Take out Tuesday and Farmer's market. Swing by Harris Pavilion for a free concert. Several of the farmer's market venders will be selling food. You can grab something delicious to eat for dinner and enjoy the sound of local musicians all in one spot! It doesn't get better than that in my book.

Here is a great list of July's seasonal produce.
14 Fast and fresh Farmer's Market Recipes.


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