How to Farmers Market like A Pro.
Last Sunday marked the start of National Farmers Market Week, and good timing because there is SO much goodness at the market right now. Going to the Dane County Farmers Market here in Madison is one of my favorite things to do on summer Saturdays, so I wanted to share the reasons I love the market and some of my top tips on shopping it like a pro. I had a blast sharing these things with the morning crew at News 3 Now too, so scroll down to watch my segments!
Why I Love The Farmers Market.
You can’t beat locally produced food.
The produce, eggs, meat, grains, honey, etc. at the market are grown locally and picked fresh, so they don’t have to travel a ton to get to you. This means the nutritional quality and flavor of those foods doesn’t deplete while en route as much as foods that have to travel farther. So foods at the farmers market not only taste better, they may be higher in things like antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that have been associated with disease risk management. Win win!
Support the local economy.
Shopping the farmers market supports the local economy! Direct-market farmers rely on those in their communities to grow and maintain their business, so visiting your market at least once in a while helps achieve that. It’s supportive of local job creation too!
A great way to move!
Walking around your local farmers market is such a good way to get out and move. Our Dane County Farmers Market here in Madison, WI is pretty big, and my legs definitely feel it after a couple circles around the Capitol Square! Invite a friend, grab a coffee, and get some extra steps in while browsing all of the beautiful local food and flowers.
Shop Like A Dietitian.
Talk to the farmer.
I love this one! Talking to a farmer can be a great way to learn more about different foods offered at the market. Ask what their food tastes like, recommendations on how to prepare it, how it was grown, etc. This may help you feel more open to try new foods, or try a new way to prepare a food that you may have thought you didn’t like before. It also gives farmers the chance to share their wealth of knowledge and expertise about something they are really passionate about.
Shop what’s in-season.
The amount of in-season produce right now in Wisconsin is crazy. We have tomatoes, berries, cherries, greens, herbs, corn, green onions, cauliflower, beets cantaloupe, and peppers, to name a few. Being in-season means these foods just taste so much better. I usually don’t love tomatoes in other seasons, but now I can’t get enough of them. Their flavor and textures is unreal, I highly recommend grabbing a bunch this weekend at the market (they won’t be in season too much longer!). And as I said before, because in-season produce is picked at its prime, it means they’re higher in nutritional content too.
Try something new every week.
Getting more variety in your diet is only a good thing because it means you’re getting all different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for a more complete nutrient profile. It also means you’re getting a variety of flavors and textures, which helps prevent food fatigue (you know, that feeling when you eat the same healthy foods over and over again to the point when you say “F it, I’m so burnt out on this, I’m going to just go get a, b, or c,” which is usually a food that doesn’t leave you feeling your best). My advice? Challenge yourself to try a new food each week. A good way to do this is to look for color. Usually avoid greens? Grab some kale, microgreens, or herbs next week. Don’t get a ton of red in your diet? Pick up some tart currants or Door County cherries (they are amazing right now).
Bring reusable bags.
Bringing your own tote bag, plastic or paper bags, or reusable produce bags helps the environment as well as the farmers who have to provide plastic bags to hundreds of customers weekly. If you forget a bag, the next best thing is to make sure you reuse the plastic bags you do get. Use them next week at the market, or at the grocery store, or cleaning out your cat’s litter box, or on a walk with your dog, or as a trash can liner… there are a million ways to reuse your bags in order to reduce your usage of new plastic.
What I’m Making.
Here are a few of the recipes I’m currently making with in-season produce:
Door County Cherry Oatmeal Muffins
Servings: 12 muffins
3.5 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon (less if you don’t love this much flavor!)
1/4 cup olive oil (or oil of choice)
1.5 cups skim, almond, or other milk
2 cups chopped Door County cherries (or any other in-season fruit)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 12-muffin pan with oil or cooking spray.
Combine the oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, mix the oil, eggs, and milk together. Once mixed, pour into dry ingredients and mix all together thoroughly.
Add chopped cherries (or other fruit) into mix and stir to combine.
Scoop the oat mixture into the greased muffin tin. Bake for 30 minutes. The muffins should be slightly browned and crisp.
When done, remove muffins from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
If freezing: Let the muffins cool completely, and store in airtight freezer bags or containers. Reheat in the microwave with a tablespoon of water.
Probiotic Tempeh Tacos
Servings: 4 tacos
1 block tempeh
Local greens (anything that looks good!)
Microgreens (basil, lemon basil, spicy greens… anything!)
KImchi (I love the Immunichi by local business Bushel and Peck’s)
4, 6” tortillas (I used Siete almond flour tortillas, but corn or whole wheat tortillas would work well too)
Olive oil or olive oil spray
Optional: avocado or creamy dressing (I used the creamy cilantro lime dressing from Primal Kitchen)
Heat a pan with olive oil or spray on medium to medium-high heat.
Slice tempeh block width-wise and add segments to your pan. Flip after a few minutes when the side touching the pan is golden brown. Once done cooking, remove.
Wash and remove greens from stem if present. Layer on tortillas (depending on the type of tortilla you buy, they may need to be microwaved for ~10 seconds, especially the Siete ones).
If desired, add tempeh and avocado or creamy dressing to a bowl and mash together. Place tempeh mixture or plain tempeh on greens.
Top with microgreens and a healthy scoop of kimchi. Enjoy!
Farmers Market Herby Rice Salad.
Recipe from Chef Aaron Glaza
3 cups cooked brown rice (at room temperature)
1/2 cup chopped greens (spinach, chard, kale, etc.)
1.5 cups of any in-season veggie you like! This recipe originally calls for:
1/2 cup thinly sliced snap peas
1/2 cup thinly sliced zucchini
1/4 cup shredded carrots or kohlrabi
1/4 cup fresh herbs (anything in season! I love dill, mint, parsley, tarragon, basil, and chives)
Salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing:
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 T sugar
1 cup organic canola oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix all salad ingredients in a mixing bowl and season to taste with salt and cracked pepper. To make the dressing:
Combine everything except the oil in a blender.
With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil to create an emulsified dressing.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir the desired amount into your salad
Pair with a protein for a more complete meal. Think grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, or salmon, or baked crispy garbanzo beans or tofu. Feel free to add a cheese like feta or goat if desired.
Homemade Pico de Gallo
Makes 1.5-2 cups
2 tomatoes (any variety you like), diced
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 large red onion, diced
1/4 small jalapeno or Serrano pepper, diced (if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
Let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour - this will only get more flavorful as it sits!
Enjoy on top of tacos, burrito bowls, eggs or omelets, grilled proteins, or as is with chips!
Real Good on the News.
Hey Madison! Did you catch me on News 3 Now last week? I shared these tips, recipes, and some of my top in-season market picks with the morning crew. Check it out!
What are your top tips for shopping the farmers market like a pro? Or your favorite recipes that feature in-season produce? Share below!