Have you checked out your local farmers’ market lately? They can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you’re used to the orderly fashion of supermarkets where each category is in a specific place. The benefit of a farmers’ market is that you can ask the farmer directly about the products. They can tell you the best way to prepare their products, where exactly they came from, and when it’s peak season. You can also ask about the growing methods: what pesticides were used (if any) and when said product was harvested.
There are some pretty cool things at a farmers’ market that you might not find (easily) anywhere else. Here’s five of my favourites:
1. Bee pollen
Local bee pollen is a treat that you can usually find at the farmers’ market. It’s made up of the granules of packed plant pollen that worker bees collect through the day and drop into their hives. Bee pollen can be used in smoothies, cereals or salads and is known for its amazing antihistamine effects. It’s also a great immune-boosting superfood rich in amino acids and vitamins like B, C, D and E. If you’re prone to pollen allergies it’s important to be cautious when consuming this product.
2. Artisan breads
If you have a specific request, be it an allergy or food intolerance, and require specially baked goods, this is the place for you! You’ll be able to talk directly to the baker, or someone who knows a lot about the baking process at the market. You can make special requests to have baked goods created for you, or you can inquire directly about which products best suit your needs. You will also find a variety of bread options that you might not encounter at the grocery store including sprouted bread, or bread made with different types of grains (making them healthier as well). You’ll benefit from the all-natural ingredients and appreciate the freshness of homemade bread. Remember, the denser the bread, the better it is for you!
3. Discovering new vegetables
Celeriac (an edible root from the celery family) and other funky looking root veggies are almost always present at farmers’ markets. This is something you might be inclined to try if you haven’t before. Celeriac, also known as knob celery, is a tasty and healthy root vegetable that is crisp and tastes like a combination of celery and potato. It’s low in starch, and can be consumed raw, baked, stir fried, mashed, or in soups. It’s high in antioxidants and vitamin K, and can keep for up to three months! If you’re at the market and see vegetables and/or fruits you’ve never heard of I encourage you to ask the grower the best way to cook them and give it a try.
4. Beeswax candles
Apart from food, there are all kinds of hand crafted things to be purchased at farmers’ markets. My favourite is beeswax candles which are expensive at retail stores and often contain paraffin or soy fillers which can actually make the air toxic rather than pure and smelling good. The beeswax candles that you normally find at farmers’ market are pure beeswax created from local bees! Be sure to ask the producer if they are all-natural to ensure you’re getting all the benefits these candles provide thanks to the negative ions they produce. Air purification (which helps with allergies and any mildew in the air) and longer burning times are two of the major benefits of all-natural beeswax candles.
5. Natural soaps
Moreover, soap can also be made from beeswax and is a healthy alternative to the nasty fillers found in some commercial soaps such as gluten, animal fat, and chemical oils that are rough on your skin. Beeswax is known to have mild antibacterial properties and can act as a barrier keeping skin protected from external elements. Also found in lip balms and creams, natural beeswax is a great replacement for petroleum found in a lot of today’s beauty products.
You may not do all of your shopping at the farmers’ market, but it’s definitely a fun thing to check out! Looking for your local market? Try this site.
Do you shop at the farmers’ market? Let us know your favourite one.
Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.