27 September 2011

Farmers Markets - Eating Local & Imported

In my hunt for a great place to buy vegetables, I have visited two grocery stores and two farmers markets in my area so far.

The first place I visited was a large grocery store chain that I was used to finding good vegetables in when I lived in North Carolina.  I was disappointed by both the quality and variety of what was available.  I bought a few items, but in the back of my head knew that this store would be for other things on my list like toilet paper and paper towels, but not for vegetables.  The second grocery chain I visited was much better for variety and freshness, but a little bit pricy on some items.

Over the weekend I was able to visit two very different local farmers markets.  The first one I went to was in Downtown Summerville South Carolina.  This market was what I would consider to be a true farmers market.  All of the vendors were local farmers, fishermen and craftspeople selling a seasonal selection.  Lucky for me there are lots of wonderful fresh vegetables this time of the year in South Carolina and we were able to purchase enough vegetables to eat for about a week for exactly $30.  This is not only less then we would spend at the grocery store, but the vegetables were of a higher quality as well.  I also feel good about shopping at this farmers market because we are supporting our local farmers who I want to keep in business for a long time since they produce a product that I need on a daily basis.  The market was small, but the variety was bountiful.  Another bonus to this visit was writing down the name of a local farm and looking them up on the internet.  I was able to discover that they offer a seasonal farm share where I can reserve a box of their freshest fruits and vegetables to pick up weekly.  I missed the Fall session, but have a plan to sign up for this service in April for the spring session.

Downtown was a success, but I also wanted to check out the offerings at the local flea market since I live close to the Fair Grounds where it is held each weekend.  What I found there was a wider variety of offerings, including some more exotic fare, but the bulk of it was imported.  The people are still local, but the food is not.  As far as freshness was concerned I thought everything looked on par with the grocery store or better in most cases.  I enjoy supporting local farmers, but I can also see myself supporting local people for some imported fruits and vegetables to add some more variety to my diet.  I didn't purchase anything from this market since I had already gotten several bag fulls from the other, but I will certainly be back in the future to browse.

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