A Preservationist’s Confession: I Get Overwhelmed at Farmers’ Markets

It’s true. I love the idea of farmers’ markets: local food, local folks, supporting the local economy, community gatherings, live music, mingling, sunshine, open air, chatting, fresh food, baked goods, use of town green space or something similar. They embody some strong preservation and community ideals.

What could possibly be wrong with a farmers’ market? 

I’ll let you in on a secret because, let’s face it, no one is perfect, preservationist or not. As the post title tells: I get overwhelmed at farmers’ markets, and I always have.

How is that possible, you ask? You live in Vermont, that’s ridiculous, you say. You’re a preservationist who is always talking about local economy, you say.

I know, I know!*

Here’s how. As I am not much of a cook, or at least an organized cook who is capable of planning meals, I tend to wander around a farmers’ market and wind up the full circle later, having no idea what to buy. I can smile and chat with the artists, admire their work, hold a cup of coffee, eat prepared food, enjoy the live music, be neighborly, but produce, meat and other stands? Unless I want berries or just a few tomatoes, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I don’t even know what some of the vegetables are, and I’m a healthy eater. And unless it’s  produce that I know, I’m skeptical of prices. Despite what we think and hope, not everything is less expensive at a farmers’ market (add that to my list of pet peeves).

After wandering around for some time, I end up frazzled and heading home with very little produce. Let’s not even talk about buying meat. That’s many steps ahead, despite the fact that local meat is important to me. And then I feel guilty for not doing more very local shopping! But I don’t know how to improve. So it’s really just the same cycle over and over.

There is where you might tease me mercilessly, or offer some helpful advice. I can handle both.

Of course, there are probably simple solutions, like talking to the farmers, etc. And there are more complicated solutions like learning to plan meals. Bring on the solutions.

My point in sharing this is to a) share a weakness I have as a preservationist and b) to tell you that by the end of the summer I will successfully shop at a farmers’ market for a week’s worth of produce & meat, rather than the grocery store. At least, I’ll do my very best. Expect it to take all summer. I’ll report back to you.

And now it’s your turn to offer your own confession, whether you are a preservationist or not.

*P.S. I live in Vermont and I’ve never once been skiing. How’s that to confuse you?!

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9 thoughts on “A Preservationist’s Confession: I Get Overwhelmed at Farmers’ Markets

  1. I had that problem too, there were too many options and I wanted to make sure I was getting tomatoes from the best place and always ended up going in circles since everyone sells them! This year, we signed up for a CSA (Community supported agriculture) and I pick up my weekly ration that changes every week right from work. They have a meat, eggs and milk csa as well, but we just did produce, and its nice and learning to use different types of fruits and veggies. We’ve also been getting meat from a local butcher, spent some time researching and found a place that gets everything from local farms, grass fed, etc. I still love going to farmers markets, but less overwhelming now!

    • Sounds great, Maria. I’ve considered a CSA (they’re everywhere in Vermont), but haven’t ventured into it yet. Glad to hear that it’s work for you guys!

  2. Are there any sustainable food bloggers in your area? Or food bloggers in general there? I’d say this is time to strike up a unique partnership/friendship where they prepare mini-menus for different types of people.

    So you have people who are there trying hard to sell their product. You have people there who want to support these people BUT you have a communication/learning hurdle. Just like at the grocery store you can find a Kraft, Hidden Valley, or some sort of recipe that tells you exactly what to get.

    I have the same issues. Love to eat, don’t know what to get. I pick up a packet of taco seasoning and the next thing you know, I have a full cart to make tacos. My point is this, have said foodie help you find the right tomatoes, lettuce, jalapenos, beef, and tortillas (this is more for states outside of the northeast) to create a meal that you’d normally eat. – This is my example because, well… I love me some tacos.

    Start small, maybe things for 2-3 meals/week then work up from there. Also, if there are some restaurants that would do some cooking demonstrations/samples using certain products.

    • Hmm, good idea Erik. And who doesn’t love tacos? Have you heard of Scratch DC? They give you all the ingredients and you do the cooking for each meal. It sounds expensive, though I have no idea. I’ll have to look into food bloggers. Maybe there is an untapped market in Vermont like the one you mention.

      • Negative, but now I have something to find while killing time at work!

        I thought people in Vermont learned this stuff in elementary school? jk… For whatever reason there is a huge disconnect here in Illinois. We have everything growing right next to us, yet we buy our ingredients for meatloaf and prepackaged potatoes at the mega-chain.

        Meanwhile, we have homely farmer’s markets that lack and some that import in their “fresh” produce. Conundrums all around.

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