Exploring Farmer’s Markets with Kids

I love, love, love going to the farmer’s markets here in California.  I love wandering around and seeing all of the fresh fruits and veggies.  I love getting to taste samples of things.  I love the delicious tamales they sell there.  I love the people-watching, especially the free hugs guy and the poetry guy.  Most of all, though, I love going with my daughter.

At 3 years old, she’s so full of natural curiosity.  She enjoys the sensory experience of the market just as much as I do.  We hold hands and just wander around.  I let her take the lead.  We look at the strange things like the purple carrots and the fancy mushrooms.  I involve her directly in the shopping in a way that just isn’t possible at the grocery store.  I let her taste the samples and pick which item she wants.  We talk about the colors, the smells, the tastes.  We talk about where the food comes from and why we eat certain things.  There is something magical about experiencing a farmer’s market with a kid.  I heartily recommend it.

This morning, the Grasshopper and I went to our local farmer’s market for fun and to see what interesting things we could find for the long weekend.  We each came home with our own treasures.  I chose swiss chard, fresh white cheddar cheese (pasteurized so I can eat it!), fresh focaccia bread, and a Texas sweet onion.  Is it a Texas 1015 bred by Texas A&M?  WHOOP!  The fellow I bought it from wasn’t sure, but if it’s a Texas bred onion, that sounds good to me!  The Grasshopper got to choose some treasures of her own as well: raisins and a bag of Rainier cherries that we will have to help her to eat in a careful way to avoid choking on pits.

I’ll be honest.  I’m not a serious Farmer’s Market shopper.  For my family, it’s more about the experience than the shopping.  Most of our food comes from the big store up the road, but there are some things I’ve found that I just prefer getting at the market.

I always get my honey there.  I eat local honey to help with my allergies, and at the market I can talk to the apiarist (beekeeper) to find out just what “local” means.  In this case, it means just up the road from my house!  I’ve even been able to find honey specific to my allergies.  Since I’m allergic to flowering weeds, I go for a wildflower honey as opposed to an orange or lemon honey.

I also like to treat my family with good cheese from the market.  It’s more expensive, so we eat it as a treat.  I also like to get onions there.  The fresher the onion, the milder the flavor.  They just taste better.

Berries are also a good bet from the market.  Strawberries at the grocery store always seem to be just on the verge of getting furry.  The fresh berries from the market keep a little longer so there’s not as much pressure to eat them same day.

So if you haven’t been or if it’s just been a while, head out to your local farmer’s market.  See what’s there.  Explore the colors, the flavors, and the people.  You won’t regret it!

If you are a regular farmer’s market attendee, what are your favorite things to get there?  What kinds of things do you enjoy exploring?

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