“Did you find everything you were looking for?” asked the innocent grocery checker.
I want to say that I was looking for the grass-fed beef that really should be behind that meat labels with graphics of cows standing in fields. I was also looking for the watermelon from any of the farmers I know because of their large signs promoting LOCAL with photos and list of farms.
But, I politely just say “Yes” to the grocery checker, because I know that marketing geniuses for grocery store chains have tapped into the increased interest in local and farm raised foods and exchanged their sleek aluminum stands to resemble wooden crates. Somehow, all this facade still misses the main reasons I love to shop at farmers markets. So, I head out to farmers market for most all of my groceries because…
These three experiences can be found at farmers markets that are not at grocery stores:
#1: MORE CHOICES OF THE HEALTHIEST MEATS AND EGGS
At any farmers markets, there are multiple choices of ranchers’ booths, unlike the grocery store option of one organic label. I have found that most rancher booths are personally manned by the rancher! And the biggest advantage is that all of them are small ranchers that raise livestock with humane management practices, maybe not to the same degree, but you can ask your questions to understand more about the grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, grass-fed lamb, heritage pork or pasture raised eggs you are buying for your table.
Ranchers are like a personal resource because they have researched extensively about raising livestock to produce the best products for their customers. Every time I visit a ranch, we end up talking about land, soil, water, grasses, breeds, birthing, practices and more. They live and breathe it daily and are there at the farmers market to help you make good choices in what you eat.
#2: MEET YOUR RANCHER FACE TO FACE
Face to face with the producer of your food is the authentic experience at local farmers market where shopping at a grocery store (or now online) can never be replicated. I would like to introduce you to some of the ranchers that I had the honor to visit in the last year. I have included links so you can find where they sell.
Thomas Locke at Bois d Arc Meat Co. raising born on the ranch grass-fed cattle, heritage pigs, pastured laying hens (eggs) and broilers (meat chicken) near Honey Grove, Texas.
Harry and Judi at JuHa Ranch raising born on the ranch grass-fed cattle, grass-fed lamb and ranch raised rabbit near Barry, Texas.
Sam Dodson at Earthstead Farms raising pastured laying hens and broilers and turkeys near Ben Wheeler, Texas.
Lee and Megan Hartvickson at Hartvickson Family Farm raising heritage Berkshire/Yorkshire crosses on pasture near Lindale, Texas. Lee checking a sow that is ready to have a litter.
Bob and Melinda Austins at Paisley Farms raising pastured laying hens and broilers near Bonham, Texas. They are sprouting mixed grains for their own chicken foder.
#3 YOU BELONG, AND YOU DON’T EVEN NEED A MEMBERSHIP CARD
Farmers Markets are an extension of the community, so soon as you arrive to shop you become part of this community. One of my favorite experiences at farmers market is the conversations, laughter, comradery…all with a big dose of positive feelings for doing the right thing that can even extend beyond the market hours into your homes as you gather to eat what was produced directly for you.
I am sharing my love of knowing the ranchers and knowing how my food was raised. Today I am cooking a ranch raised rabbit from JuHa Ranch along with peppers, potatoes, onions and herbs from farmers’ fields. I would love to hear about your farmers market finds that cannot be matched at a grocery store.
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