Here in the Pacific Northwest the growing season is getting started with a bang! As we look forward to longer (& brighter) days the flowers are blooming, the fawns are being born, and the farmers are busy in their fields.

One of the things my family & I love most about this season is the abundance of fresh vegetables, ripe fruits, and local meats available at the local farmer’s market. Back in the day everyone knew their local farmers, but in today’s world we are often removed from the growing, processing, & delivery of the food on our plates.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about keeping our family healthy it’s to make a positive, deep & lasting connection to where our food comes from. That’s why we’ve built a family ritual around visiting & socializing at our local farmer’s market.

Here are our top 5 reasons why you & your family should skip the trip to Whole Foods this week and head to your local farmer’s market:

 

 1) Fresh is Best

There is a reason why locally grown foods taste better. Most vegetables and fruits you find in the supermarket have been shipped over long distances and picked before they are fully ripened. This makes grocery-bought fruits and veggies not only less tasty, but less nutritious too.

Local & organically grown foods from the farmer’s market always look more vibrant, have a crisper taste, and pack more of a nutrient-filled punch than their grocery store counterparts.

 

 2) Eating in Season  

When you shop at your local farmer’s market you tap into nature’s rhythm. Mother Nature cooks up food in cycles, so some weeks there will be plenty of swiss chard & kale, while the next may be brimming with berries and peaches. Following the ebb & flow of nature keeps your body in sync with the season.

And instead of going to the market with a well-defined shopping list you can instead teach your kiddos to stay open & flexible about what will be on the dinner menu that week. It can give your family a chance to try new foods and experiment with tasty recipes.

 

 3) Get to Know Your Farmer

One of the most pleasant parts about a farmer’s market visit is the social scene. We’ve had countless chats with friends and locals about all sorts of things. But some of the best conversations have been with the local farmers. It’s always so fascinating to hear their fun garden facts, crafty cooking tips, and what fresh food is coming up for harvesting in the next month. And the added bonus is that our family gets to make a real connection with where & who our food came from. I love it when my kiddo’s can rattle off the names of which farms filled their dinner plates!

 

 4) Local Culture 101

Shopping at your local farmer’s market shows your kids the value of investing in your home community. They get to know the “feel” of the neighborhood, the uniqueness of their community and its people, and see how they fit in to the larger culture of their hometown.

Plus, many local markets have fun kid-centered festivities and lively music to keep visitors coming back for more. And isn’t it fun to dance while you shop?

 

 5) Food as an Experience (vs a Commodity)  

Food in our society has become little more than a commodity. We have long forgotten the days when families would gather for the sake of breaking bread or friends would laugh over the scents of freshly cooked fare.

By visiting your local farmers market you can invite in a richly rewarding food experience – and you can ignite in your children a love for the aroma, color, and texture of true culinary wonder.

Trust me, a trip to your local farmer’s market is time well spent. Take a visit with the kiddo’s this weekend and let us know how it goes! Or just simply write in the comments below what YOU love most about your local market.