The farmers market used to be a place where communities could come to support local growers while getting a fair price for fresh produce. These days, farmers markets are everywhere. In my city, there is one every weekend. Some are in hipster neighborhoods. Others are set up at malls. There’s even one twice a month at my work!
Twice a month the voice over the intercom at my work says, “It’s payday Friday. Come visit the healthy farmers market” (emphasis mine). For one, if someone is counting down the days until payday, they don’t need to be spending their money as soon as they get it. Two, I don’t see anything too healthy about the market. The vendors at my work sell crepes, Greek food, cake, and oils that purportedly can treat any ailment.
Where’s The Produce?
When I first started going to farmers markets, I went with the intention to buy straight from growers. Therefore, I expected a good price on produce. I was shocked to learn that the prices were the same or more than at my local store. And I was also shocked to see how few farmers there were!
A story by NPR covered the failure of many farmer’s markets despite how popular they have become. They now pop up everywhere, and the market is oversaturated.
Local growers cannot produce enough. This may be why many of the markets I have been to have only had one or two tables of produce. Dog treats, handmade jewelry, plants, artisanal dishes, and even food trucks seem to have taken over the “farmers markets.”
Farmers Market Finds
Despite the lack of fresh produce, I do still shop at a farmers market. I like sampling products that can’t be found on store shelves. Salsas, breads, and cookies made by local entrepreneurs are just some of the items I’ve had the pleasure to try.
Farmers markets are also a great place to find gifts. One-of-a-kind jewelry, handmade bags, and sculptures can be found for sale by local artists.
For my mother, I found an anklet that was made from upcycled silk from old saris – it was nothing like I’ve ever seen before. It was nice to give my mother a gift that she won’t find in any store.
Other purchases for ourselves and gifts include:
$8 for a container that holds one cucumber is quite expensive ($10 for one with ghost pepper brine). But after having these pickles I can’t go back to jarred. I do reuse the juice to make more pickles.
Yes, spicy hot beer cheese. One sample and we were hooked. We purchased some for my step-father for Christmas (and my husband also purchased some for himself).
A local man makes the most unbelievable olive salad. You can use it on salads or nachos. But honestly, I just eat it out of the jar. The leftover oil and juice is the secret ingredient in our famous caprese salad.
Stuffed with what you ask? Jalapenos of course. They offer other options, but the jalapeno stuffed olives are amazing. We are always on the lookout for this stall.
Fresh basil is a must in our house. We can get basil and other herb plants for a comparable price to our local superstore. But when we buy at the farmers market, the profits stay in our community.
Gourmet Deviled Eggs
This may seem like an odd farmer’s market find, but it’s a purchase we’ve made so I’ll include it. A friend of the family and his wife make and sell fancy gourmet deviled eggs with all sorts of toppings. I am happy to support their small business.
If you are looking for a fair price on fresh produce, stands run by local growers may be a better option. But there are still some great finds to be found at local farmers markets. I am happy to support my community while also sampling local products and seeing one-of-a-kind pieces. You never know what you’ll find at the farmers market.
What are your favorite farmers market finds?