I love food. I eat a lot and shop often at farmers markets, health food stores, Whole Foods (Trader Joes, Jimbos) and occasionally at larger, old school grocery stores (Dag, Publix, etc). I also order foods & groceries online. When I shop for groceries, I get the FRESHEST, most NUTRIENT-DENSE foods possible. I shop about 3-4 days a week. Real food is one of my highest priorities and whatever is high on your priorities, you'll always find a way to get it done. I've streamlined and mastered the art of shopping for healthy food at farmers markets across the country. This post will show you how to do the same. Union Square Farmers Market The best place to get the highest quality foods that enhance all aspects of physical & mental health health, burn fat and protect our environment is at your local farmers markets. You may have to do some detective work to find them, but they are everywhere these days. Here are 11 tips and questions you need to know to when shopping at farmers markets.
I go to the Union Square Farmers Market (Greenmarket). There are plenty of farmers markets in NYC, but the biggest and best is Union Square Greenmarket, downtown New York City. You can get all sorts of good stuff, from organic produce, grass fed beef, bacon, eggs, flowers, honey and maple syrup. Yes, you can get other stuff there too, like candles, jams, baked goods and christmas trees.
MAKE A LIST.
How much food do you need? How often can you go? What foods do you need to be healthy, lean, energetic, mentally sharp and well balanced? Answer these questions and you can craft a list of what you need to get. This will streamline your trip.
Bring cash to make your shopping smooth. Very few vendors are set up with credit card machines.
If you get there early, you can find crops that were harvested within 24 hours of delivery to the market. You get the best selection and there is less people. You can meet the farmers and see if there’s any new foods or deals, discover how small sustainable farms operate and develop a new friendship with nice people who understand nature. Developing friendships with local farmers also expands your personal network and strengthens your community. I go early, socialize for a NY minute and get home in time to cook brunch.
LOOKIN’ FOR A DEAL?
Go late. As the market is getting ready to close, some vendors are happy to get rid of some stuff at a discount instead of packing it up and heading back to the farm.
BRING YOUR OWN BAG OR BACKPACK.
Whether you want to stroll and take your time browsing the market, or you want to get in and out like a race car, you will need your own bags or a backpack. A backpack is great because it keeps you ‘hands free’ while you shop.
FREE YOUR MIND.
Have you ever tried fermented foods like sauerkraut, Kim Chee or pickled ginger with carrots? If your lucky, you might be able to find broth, wild game, organ meats and bones to make your own stock. Farmers markets often have traditional foods that you may not have been exposed to yet. These foods are ultra healthy, enhance digestion and accelerate fat loss.
Fermented foods from Hawthorne Valley Farm, an organic, grass fed, biodynamic farm
in New York state.
I get honey (raw, organic), maple syrup and fruit – those are the only sweets I purchase. Beware, there are plenty of easily accessible sweets waiting to be tasted, including hot apple cider (which I don’t drink because its pasteurized), pure maple candies (delicious, but too much sugar), honeys, jams, fruits and baked goods (apple pies and such). Stay focused and beware the lure of evil sugar! ;)
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE.
Don’t you agree? Don’t keep getting the same two things (i.e. spinach and carrots) when you food shop. Mix it up. Get different color fruits & veggies each time you go.
The best way to know the truth about healthy food is to get to know your local farmer. Introduce yourself and get to know your community. When you get to know the farmers, you can find out which foods were harvested that morning, see if there’s any new foods or deals, discover how small sustainable farms operate and develop a new friendship with nice people who understand nature. Developing friendships with local farmers also expands your personal network and strengthens your community.
ORGANIC & GRASS FED?
Before you trust any labels or stickers, you should get the answer right from the source. ‘Do you sell sustainably raised, organic or grass fed meat, poultry, dairy or eggs?’ If its not certified organic, how is it grown? How much pesticide use is there? How are the animals raised and what are they fed? Just so you know, many of the foods I buy are organic, grass fed, but not certified. Many small farmers don’t want to bother with exorbitant fees or the bureaucratic run around involved in the US government’s organic certification program. I have blogged about the difference between grass fed and grain fed beef HERE.
LOCAL & SEASONAL?
‘What’s local and in season?’ The average produce travels 1500 miles to get to you, so look for local and seasonal foods. These foods will be nutrient dense and have the best flavor.
Those are just a few of the most important tips on how to shop at a farmers market. I have a part 2 coming out on the best quality meats (grass fed vs grain fed). I also have a post on the groceries I bought with photos of several trips to the Union Square farmers market so stay tuned…
If you have any other tips, please post them below!