Can you remember the last time you went to the grocery store? 'Cuz I can't.
Don't worry - I'm not boycotting the purchase of food or anything. And I haven't developed any early-onset memory-loss. And I'm not (well, not really) trying to brag...
... but I can't remember the last time I've been to the grocery store because I've been buying exclusively from local farmers markets. They've always, without any hesitation, been my Saturday-and-Sunday-morning plans, even though only recently have I been leaving with bags full of groceries for the week instead of just a couple peaches and some local bread.
Whenever I see an opportunity to brag about my classes, I snatch it up, so here goes. My favorite class this quarter - Food Science and Nutrition, Contemporary Issues in Food Service - taught me about 1) cooking with various dietary/ingredient/cost restrictions and 2) about the benefits of supporting the local community via buying locally grown food. Though I assumed I pretty much had this topic mastered by buying said peaches and loaf of (unbelievably delicious) bread, my professor - and Michael Pollan, mostly (also, is he married?) - convinced me that I had much to learn and much more to buy in order to support my local farmers and bakers and community to the best of my abilities.
And within about two weeks, I found myself spending Saturday morning (the day of the SLO farmers market, which I attend during the school year) and Sunday morning (the day of the Claremont farmers market, which I attend now that I'm living at home) actually shopping at the markets, rather than just sipping coffee and picking up one or two things.
Considering you're reading my blog right now and maybe you have been for a while, you probably have some idea of the benefits of buying from the farmers market instead of the supermarket, yeah? But maybe you're like me and you want to know more - truly, what's the difference in the food? I'll answer that for you, most definitely, but as I always say:
IT'S MORE THAN FOOD.
Anyway, benefits of the farmers market:
- go ahead, call yourself a "locavore" - how fun is that?!
- reduce the carbon footprint produced when grocers have to ship food from across the country because avocados and almonds and asparagus aren't really optimally grown everywhere. ever heard of the term "food miles"? as much as you want to minimize the amount miles you have to run for exercise, you want to minimize the amount of miles your food has to travel to reach your plate.
- increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. at the local markets in my area (both in SLO and in OC), the farmers selling fruits and vegetables FAR outnumber the farmers selling meats, eggs, cheese, etc. similarly, have you ever been to a farmers market that sells Cheetos and soda? I haven't.
- build a stronger sense of community. when was the last time you reached out to participate in some sort of community event? you can easily and genuinely include yourself in your hometown (or wherever you are) by purchasing locally grown foods. connect with the farmers, strike up conversation about their farms, and bring friends with you - "the more the merrier" most certainly applies here.
- get some fresh air. sounds simple, but think about it - most of us drive to the grocery store, which is indoors, and then drive home. if you're able to, try biking to the local farmers market, which is outdoors, and then ride home (bring a backpack or two to carry your purchases).
- get some fresh food. and by that, I mean "seasonal" - farmers in SLO aren't growing mangoes in the middle of December (heck, is anyone?). during this time, you'll find things like swiss chard and cauliflower and sweet potatoes to roast up for warm, comforting dinners. during summer, you'll find juicy peaches and berries and tomatoes for smoothies, snacks, salads, etc. here's a seasonal food guide, based on the time of year.
How do those not sound appealing?
Believe me - grocery shopping is my "happy time". Strolling up and down each aisle, browsing the products I know and love and exploring the shelves for new items. And, just letting you know, your local farmers market probably won't be selling Banza pasta, so it's totally fine to purchase that (and whatever else isn't offered at the market) from the store.
But, I find even more happiness in shopping at the local farmers markets - I'm saving money (yes, you CAN lower your grocery bill), I'm reducing plastic waste, and I'm integrating myself into the community.
Again, I'm not swearing off anything store-bought. Hello - kombucha and peanut butter are like my besties and I can usually only find my favorites in the grocery store.
I AM promising to dedicate more time and money into my local peeps - my local farmers, my local vendors and artisans, and even my closest family and friends by frequenting the farmers markets.
You want to join me? Cool - you know where to find me :)
Makes 4-6 servings
For the pasta:
1 box Banza chickpea pasta (I used Rotini)
golden beets, about 6-7 small, washed
2 cups mixed greens
For the dressing:
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg's)
juice from 1 lime
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook Banza pasta according to package directions. Once finished, strain, rinse, and set aside to cool.
- Chop the beets into 1/2"-thick chunks and bring to a boil. Cook until tender when poked with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Strain and combine in a large bowl with the pasta. Set aside.
- To make the dressing, simply combine the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour over the pasta and beets and toss in the mixed greens.
- Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 1 week.