Leaving my cave to explore these places, and enjoying - literally - the fruits of my labor.
Although physicians are increasingly pushing for us to be active, it seems there's ever more that we can do with nothing more than a couch and a laptop: work. Holiday shopping. Interacting with friends. Grocery shopping. Ordering dinner. Attending college. And the list goes on and on. But New England's farmers markets, a rite of late spring through much of the fall, are worth venturing out of the house to visit.
These are almost like pop-up stores, open for only a few hours. And every one is a little different from the next. “Farmers” is also not fully accurate, as these often have a mix of fresh food and meat, as well as locally made processed foods, and even crafts and artwork, which no one plans to put on the table and serve for dinner. They may also have live music, food trucks, or other vendors to entertain you while you’re there. Each farmers market therefore is its own, unique experience.
One common part of these events is the enthusiasm of those who are selling something. Whether it’s the produce they’ve harvested from their farms or the crafts they’ve created, their work is a source of passion and pride. It shows when talking to them, their service is top-notch and personal, and everyone seems much friendlier than normal malls or grocery stores.
A common perception is that the food at these places is more expensive. It’s true that it may sometimes be a little pricier. But such cases also mean that anything you buy will be supporting a local business and the food is fresher and didn’t require cargo ships and trains to get it to you. However, other times, you may find that you can get certain meats or vegetables at or below grocery store prices – while also getting high quality food. We’ve found “ugly produce”, zucchinis, steak, and other food we regularly eat while saving money. Regardless of what you buy, such purchases should feel especially good since any dollar spent with small businesses doesn’t go into a multinational corporation’s bank account, but rather gets reinvested multiple times in the local economy.
Aside of treating this as an alternative to the grocery store, it may also be an opportunity to get creative. For example, we might seek a new fruit or vegetable that we haven’t had before (I’d never heard of husk tomatoes, but, man, are those things tasty!). Or, if we visit one with a bigger lineup of booths, we might see if we can construct an entire meal. Last fall was a good example, when we found we were able to enjoy sliced apples, husk tomatoes, and kale chips to start, followed by a steak, with baked potatoes and sautéed Shishito peppers, all washed down with a slightly heated pumpkin wine that filled the room with the scent of autumn. And as a post script, some locally roasted coffee can be a pleasant way to start off your next morning.
It can be a good opportunity to shop for presents. The jewelry, autographed books, or extremely high-quality knives are unique finds that can be great to set back until a holiday or birthday rolls around. Since these often have a story, these presents can really reinforce that it is the thought that counts.
Given the prevalence of these markets and the people hustling hard, there is still plenty of season left to venture further afield and see what you, too, can discover and enjoy.
Rather than listing individual places, these links will list a number of farmers markets, from which you can choose the best one for your plans.
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