For much of the country, the arrival of springtime signifies the opening of farmers markets. While it’s nice to have a new option for relaxed weekend activities (handmade pupusas and gluten-free waffles are deeply appealing), there are so many good reasons why you might choose to purchase your produce at the market instead of the often more convenient grocery store.
It’s no secret that I personally adore shopping at the farmers market (see my tips for navigating the market here)—I can’t say I mind the minor inconveniences like hauling pounds of produce around or searching for parking on crowded neighborhood streets.
Over the last couple of years in LA, it’s become a weekend me-time ritual to go to the market and take my time browsing around and chatting with vendors. There’s something so satisfying about thoughtfully selecting produce for the coming days and returning home with an array of fresh vegetables and fruits to play with in the kitchen.
Shopping at the farmers market has some clear advantages: it’s often less expensive than shopping at the grocery store, where organic goods come with a hefty price tag, and you can score discounts by buying more of something (like three bunches of kale for $5 instead of one for $2). Plus, I think it’s so neat that you can discover precisely how your strawberries are grown if you so desire—that direct relationship with the farmers who grow your food is invaluable.
While some of those benefits may seem obvious, I’ve discovered a huge perk that I never anticipated: farmers market produce stays fresher significantly longer than store-bought goods. Fruits and vegetables are typically plucked from the vine or ground within a day of hitting the farmers market, while the average store-bought equivalent has been out of the ground for days, if not a week or more. Further, much of the produce at the grocery has traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to get to you, increasing the odds of it being old, bruised, or both. If you’ve ever experienced opening a pint of store-bought molded blueberries, you know what I mean!