Thursday, June 19, 2014

Five Reasons to go to Your Farmer's Market

The older I get, the more I add to my list of Important Things. Here's what I mean: When I first got married, I acquired the Important Thing of cooking some kind of edible food each day. Over time, That one objective morphed into many -- shopping within a grocery budget, learning how to make healthy meals, buying organic when it matters most, meal planning, and making things my toddler will actually eat. So that's my Important Things food list. Then there's mommyhood, ministry, cleaning, organizing, graphic design... you get the idea.

My problem is that as these lists grow, I have a constant nagging feeling that I am forgetting something important; dropping an essential ball. And those 10 Foods You Should Never Eat and 5 Lethal Chemicals in Your Makeup lists that I am always seeing on Facebook don't help. 

If there's a solution to this messy, intersecting web of priorities that I live in, I haven't discovered it yet. But here's a little thing that helps.

A little thing that makes me feel really good, like the day is a grand victory.

Get out of the house (away from lists and dirty dishes), and go on an outing that checks off multiple Important Things in one fell swoop.

It's summer (cue the hallelujah chorus), so today my outing was to the local farmer's market. I live in a deliciously convenient part of Colorado Springs, so ours is just a few minutes away. Some large shopping centers will host farmer's markets one day of the week during the summer. 

Josiah has been fighting the resistance against naps this week, and sitting at home trying to get him to sleep drives me bonkers. So we packed up the stroller and the sunscreen this morning and headed out. 

Here are five Important Things that I feel better about after our trip.

1. Sensory Fun for Toddlers (on the cheap)
During our visit, Josiah got to sample an organic multigrain cookie, hold potatoes, smell handmade soap, eat a honey stick, and see boatloads of other kids. I bought him the honey stick for 50 cents, and everything else was free! Most vendors give out samples, so there are lots of things for little ones to touch and taste. It was a little tricky navigating the stroller around certain vendors, but it took a lot less patience than telling Josiah to get down from the stairs for the fiftieth time, which is what I would have been doing at home.

2. Fresh, Cheap and (sometimes) Organic Produce
At our farmer's market, there is a produce stand where you can fill up a five-pound bag with anything you want for $10. I got tomatoes, broccoli, squash, peppers and more that would've cost more at the grocery store, and they look and taste a lot better because they were grown locally. This particular stand wasn't certified organic, but I've seen others at bigger markets that are. The produce looks so much fresher at farmer's markets, and you're supporting a family who lives near you.

I packed all of this produce into one bag for $10.

3. Natural, Healthier Food
For us, eating healthy includes avoiding processed foods, refined sugars, unhealthy fats and white carbs. It's gotten pretty easy to find whole-grain and natural foods at the grocery store, but a lot of vendors at farmer's markets sell specialty items that are harder to find, like hatch green chile fettucine, or multigrain baking mix without any artificial ingredients. These are fun occasional buys because you can sample it first.
Josiah sampled a cookie made with this yummy NanaCakes baking mix.

4. Natural, Healthier Beauty Products
It's been almost two years since I stopped buying makeup and beauty products with certain ingredients, like parabens and mineral oil (read why here). Safer beauty products are starting to become easier to find, thankfully, as awareness about harmful ingredients increases. It's still a headache, though, reading labels to try to find a tube of mascara or sunscreen that I'm willing to use. Today I found a vendor selling homemade soap. The owner lives in my neighborhood and could tell me everything she puts in the soap that I bought.

This honey oatmeal soap cost me $2.50 from Twelve Springs Soap

5. Exercise and Fresh Air
Just walking outside in the sunshine makes my day better. A friend and I met in a grassy area after shopping and let the kiddos run around. (Or sit around eating graham crackers, in Josiah's case.) Spending time outside in our town gives me a dose of perspective when I'm overwhelmed by my to-dos, and Josiah went straight down for a nap when we got home.

What do you love about your farmer's market? What outings help you and your little ones to have more fun together?

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