I’m a Kansas farm girl. Farming was my Dad’s hobby, and so I grew up nearly every weekend working on our farms, painting barns, scrubbing cattle corrals, building fences, picking pears, working in the pasture and the occasional getting lost in the corn field. And when not at the farm, my sister and I helped in our very large backyard garden, where we grew watermelon, strawberries, green beans, and just about anything my Mom fancied.
Predictably, I hated that work, but I inherently knew and respected its value. Digging in the dirt, breathing fresh air, soaking up the sunshine, reaping the rewards of our hard work…there was nothing better. I think I secretly loved it, and I still do!
Sadly, growing fresh produce and plucking it from your own garden or farm is most definitely a thing of the past. That goes without saying. But, it’s possible to gain the same positive attributes that come with connecting on farmland and eating out of the garden when you shop locally at your farmer’s market.
1) Get more nutrients and flavor in your food. The nutrients in our produce have decreased on average 5-40% in the last 50 years. Buy locally to have food picked at the height of its ripeness and generally grown in rich soil. As a result, your produce is bursting with flavor with ripening on the vine, no refrigeration, processing, and shipping. You should taste the sweet strawberries I purchased today! 
 
2) Minimize your exposure to antibiotics, hormones, and chemicals. Most markets will include dairy and meat products that have been raised humanely, on the pasture, and without antibiotics, hormones, and chemically treated corn and soy. Realizing 80% of the anitbiotics imported into our Country are fed to cows, pigs, and chickens, and most of those animals are raised in warehouses, it’s smart to look for locally sourced animal protein. 
 
3) Get connected with your food’s sources. The foundation of being a mindful eater requires you understand and are grateful for your food, and talking with your farmer provides the opportunity to know how your food was grown and the effort provided to put it on your plate. When you appreciate your food and show respect for its sourcing, you tip the scales on a grateful heart and grateful eating habits.
Great questions to ask your farmer include:
👉🏻🍓Why do you farm?
👉🏻🍒How do you treat crops for pests, weeds, disease?
👉🏻🥑What fertilization do you use?
👉🏻🐷How do the animals live? (Pasture? Confined?)
👉🏻🐔What do you feed your animals?
👉🏻🥒What produce is in season?
👉🏻🍎Do you practice single crop farming or rotate crops? 
👉🏻🍇How do you irrigate crops? Water for animals?
👉🏻🍆Do you personally grow all the food you sell?
👉🏻🐂Do you use hormones or antibiotics with animals?
 
4) Support local farmers. Family farmers need your support! Family farms and their income are rapidly declining and with it a significant growth of giant agribusiness, most of whom use chemicals and farming practices that compromise the nutritional value of food and your subsequent health. When you buy locally, farmers have half a chance at competing in the global economy and everyone gets healthier!
 
5) Eat in the season. In ancient Ayurvedic medicine, it’s critically important to eat seasonally ripe produce to balance mind and body. We eat grounding, warm foods in the fall and winter such as nuts, warm spices, and root vegetables; whereas in the summer, our body seeks out cooling citrus. Eating locally brings your body back into balance by eating seasonably ripe foods.
What do you love most about shopping at the Farmer’s Market? I hope you will share your finds from a local market and tag me when you do! @pacerkristen #pacerkristen