@story CATHERINE FREDERICK
I grew up around a garden full of fresh fruits and vegetables from my grandparents’ backyard. There was even a composter. If we wanted fresh tomatoes or okra, we just walked out into their garden and picked it. No, I didn’t live on a farm and my family wasn’t a bunch of hippies - just people who believed that home grown tasted better.
I didn’t truly fall in love with garden fare until my mid-twenties, so when my son was born, I made it my mission to introduce him to fresh vegetables and fruits regularly. Now he’s five and he has a love for fresh fruits and veggies—from carrots and bell peppers to onions and tomatoes—even squash and zucchini; there is nothing he won’t try- and usually asks for seconds.
‘Farm to table’ has become a buzz phrase, making my mom a trendsetter way before it was trendy to eat as a locavore. A locavore is defined as someone who primarily eats foods from their local or regional farmers market or food grown at home. By eating locally, most locavores hope to create a greater connection between themselves and their food sources, resist industrialized and processed foods, and support their local economy. “The word ‘locavore’ shows how food-lovers can enjoy what they eat while still appreciating the impact they have on the environment,” said Ben Zimmer, editor for American dictionaries at Oxford University Press. “It’s significant in that it brings together eating and ecology in a new way.”
For me, it’s all of those things, but it’s also the memories of my family gathered ‘round the table that are evoked when I eat a fresh-picked tomato or a juicy peach.
Since we don’t have the space in our backyard for a full garden, we are huge fans of our local farmers markets. Just like my grandparents’ garden, as the season progresses, new flavors are discovered every week. My five-year-old delights in strawberry season, until blueberry season starts, and then it’s blackberry season, and just when he’s eaten that last luscious local berry till next year’s crop, the crisp juicy apples appear.
Before you dash off wide-eyed to the market, I’ve compiled some tips to help you make the best selections. Let’s start with a list of items you should pull together before you leave the house. Grab a cooler and a cold source. Your delicious hand-picked fruits and veggies will ruin quickly if you don’t give them a comfy, cool place to rest on the ride home. Bring along change & small bills. Remember, you’re not shopping for vintage antiques—it doesn’t cost a fortune to buy and eat healthy fruits and veggies. BYOB! In addition to supporting our local economy, support our environment by bringing your own bag. You can pick up sturdy bags at several local stores for under $1.00.
When planning your trip, remember, early bird gets the worm. Arriving early assures you get the pick of the crop. When you arrive at the market, resist the urge to grab the first pint of ripe berries you see. Make a first pass. Look with your eyes and not your hands, scanning each vendor for what’s available, what looks the best, and who has the best price. Either bring one bag for cans and other heavy items and one for delicates, or buy the heavy stuff first. This will ensure your tomatoes are BLT ready and not instant spaghetti sauce.
Take your taste buds on an adventure, and let the produce of the season dictate what’s on your menu for the week. Search the internet for new and interesting recipes and make the most out of your market finds. Lastly, try not to over buy. Stored properly, farm fresh produce will last but can’t stay fresh forever. Most markets are open on Saturdays and also one or two days during the week. Support our local farmers, our environment and the health of your family. It’s an experience not to be missed.
Fort Smith Farmer's Market Info
Fayetteville Farmer's Market Info