I love that shopping at the farmers market takes all the mental effort out of shopping locally and in season. When I shop at the farmers market I don’t have to decide if I’m willing to eat organic blueberries grown in Chile. I’m shopping local and in season without even thinking about it. I have really enjoyed re-learning the seasonality of produce through my farmers’ market. But shopping at the farmer’s market also means that you will not be buying tomatoes in January. If you have been ignoring seasonality for years and buying South American produce in the winter without noticing, shopping at the farmers market will likely require a shift in how you meal plan. Here are some tips to help you enjoy eating seasonally.
Ask what is coming into season next. You won’t find watermelon in January or apples in June at your farmers market. However, I find that there is a certain joy in waiting for strawberries or zucchini or tomatoes to come into season instead of eating the tasteless wonders at the grocery store year-round. Anticipation is half the fun of the farmer’s market. Around February, I ask the farmers almost every week, “when are you going to have tomatoes?” And then in June I start asking, “When are you going to have grapes?”
Try new things and ask the farmers and other shoppers how to use them. I tried kale for the first time this year. I know all you super-foodies have been making kale chips for years, but I never bought it because I really didn’t know what to do with it. I ended up steaming it briefly and adding it to my stir fry after consulting with a few folks at the market. Delicious (and nutritious).
Learn to cook using what you have. I used to plan the dishes I wanted to make during the week, then make a grocery list based on the recipes, then shop for my list at the grocery store. Now I keep my pantry stocked with non-perishables, and cook based on what is in season at the farmer’s market. Look for cookbooks that recognize seasonality or allow you to cook using whatever you have on hand. Other useful resources include food blogs with seasonal recipes and recipe websites (which often let you search by ingredient).