While learning to navigate the local food community, I have found that Farmers Markets are a great resource. You may be thinking, well duh, but when you take a closer look Farmers Markets can teach you more than you might have initially thought.
Farmers markets in essence are markets full of farmers. You want to learn about local food? This is your mecca. Vendors and farmers are knowledgeable, well connected in the food community, and friendly. At first, farmers seemed like a wise and untouchable breed, I was maybe even a little intimidated. How do you even cook kohlrabi? Do they think I’m stupid because I have no idea what that cute little squash is? Farmers get up at the crack of dawn to haul fresh produce and goods to you. They farm because they love it and want to share their local seasonal produce with you. Use them as a resource! Ask questions, they won’t bite.
Learn the food seasons. Farmers markets are a great way to learn what grow when. Spoiler alert, most fruits and vegetables grow best in one particular season. The produce at Farmers Markets directly reflect what is coming out of the farms at that time. You don’t get everything all the time when you buy local seasonal food, but it makes you appreciate the food more. It has helped me gain an appreciation for the natural cycle.
Now I am no stranger to HEB, I have circled the produce bins a time of two. But let me warn you, once you start going to Farmers Markets it changes the grocery store forever. It is hard to describe how much of an impact it can have when you connect with your food source. Forming a relationship with your food and the people that grow it is a powerful thing. It isn’t just shopping anymore it becomes almost an experience. Have you connected with a local Farmers Market yet? Check out this Farmers Market guide from Edible Austin and start exploring.