Living in the Northern Rivers of NSW Australia has its advantages. The beaches and café culture are world class and the relaxed holiday atmosphere is prevalent year round. Another thing the Northern Rivers is well known for is the abundance of farmer’s and artisan markets. Why are there so many to choose from? Well, we’re lucky to live in an area of artists, entrepreneurs and farmers. Shopping local is the best way to buy your groceries so here's a few tips on how to get the best out of your local farmer's market.
Get to know your local area.
The Northern Rivers has good year round rainfall and a subtropical climate with rich, volcanic soil creating conditions that encourage a wide range of horticultural crops. Macadamias, fruit and vegetables are all grown in the area.
Having knowledge of your local area is important for making good decisions at your famer’s market. You’re trying to buy fresh and local so target the stalls that have the names of local farmers. Also keep an eye out for the products you know are grown in your area. The more you attend the markets and chat to the owners the better your local knowledge will be. If you live in a city you can find out how far the food has travelled to get to you and make more informed shopping decisions.
Learn how to cook for the seasons.
Now that you’ve identified what’s grown locally, you can start cooking seasonally. Yes, you may have favourite fruit or vegetables that are available all year at the supermarket but we’re moving beyond that to a greener way of thinking.
Buying what’s in season means your fruit & veg are fresher and haven’t had all those nasty miles of travel to get to your plate. You can eat with a clean conscience. You’ll also become a better cook as you learn about local flavours and how to mix and match what’s available into a delicious dinner.
See the inner beauty.
If you’re a farmer’s market newbie you may be surprised by some of the things that you see. You’ll come across fruit & veg you’ve never seen before. Give it a try! Ask the farmer what it is and how to eat it. Incorporate it into your new healthy market diet.
You’ll also see some of the stuff that you know – but what’s this? Lumps and bumps all over – not perfect like the supermarket. This is a good sign. What you’re looking at has been grown naturally, without pesticides. Confirm with your local stall older that their stock is pesticide free so you can enjoy fresh, natural food without the poison.
Go early – stay longer.
Everyone knows how good the markets are and if you go too late a lot of stalls will sell out of their most popular items. This always happens with bread at my local! And just because you get there early, doesn’t mean you have to leave early. Stick around for live music, good food and great people.
Take your green bags.
Do not forget your green bags. Plastic will not hold your abundant haul and stallholders often don’t have plastic bags anyway. Now that you’re shopping local at the market you’re a green-machine so no more plastic for you anyway. Green bags are your new go to so wear them with pride!