Farmers markets help you know where your food comes from
– Second in a 4-part series on Virginia farmers markets
– By Kristin Henderson, chief veggie conversationalist:
Do you know where your food comes from? It’s hard to figure out the backstory of anything you buy in a grocery store — even organic items from eggs to milk to produce aren’t always what they seem. The only way to know for sure is to get to know the farmers and food artisans who make your food.
Get to know your farmers & food artisans
Local farmers markets and online farmers markets like Seasonal Roots can help you do that. Sam, the Farmer Connector for Seasonal Roots, gets to know each farmer and food artisan personally. He visits their farms and kitchens and knows the methods they use to grow or make their local food. He makes sure they all rely on sustainable, humane practices that are good for people, animals, and the environment. Thanks to Sam, it’s easy for Seasonal Roots members to get to know each farmer and food artisan, too — while they’re shopping at our online farmers market, they just click on the vendor info that’s next to every item in the market.
In-person farmers markets that are “producer only” farmers markets give you a similar opportunity. “Producer only” means every vendor grows or makes the things they sell. No re-selling is allowed. An example of re-selling is when a vendor buys produce at a wholesale market, then takes it to the farmers market to sell it there. That kind of produce is almost never local and it’s almost impossible to figure out how and where it was really grown.
When you go to a producer-only farmers market, it’s a safe bet that the person standing there next to a mound of gorgeous produce or tempting pies had something to do with growing or making it. They’re either the farmer or food artisan themselves, or they’re a family member or friend or employee. You can stop for a chat, find out where they farm and what kinds of farming methods they use. To ensure their produce has the most flavor and nutrients, how soon after harvest do they get their produce to market? Are they environmentally friendly — are they low- or no-spray and do they conserve water? Do they treat their animals humanely — are the animals raised in pastures and are antibiotics avoided?
Local producer-only farmers markets, whether they’re in-person or online, give you an old school connection to your food that’s impossible to get at a grocery store. They give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing and trusting the people you get your food from, even in a big, impersonal metropolitan area like Northern Virginia.
Northern Virginia farmers markets
The Spotsylvania Farmers Market is the largest local farmers market in the region. They say that more than 60 vendors are out there every Saturday selling locally produced goods.
Another large local farmers market that proudly declares itself producer-only is the Dale City Farmers Market. Nearly 50 vendors set up for business on Sundays.
The veteran-owned, family-owned Long Sunday Market (formerly known as the North Stafford Farmers Market) is also open on Sundays and everything is locally produced. They’re also now hosting a smaller Wednesday market, so check it out!
The historic Fredericksburg Farmers Market offers three locations that feature family farms — one open on Saturdays, the others on Thursdays.
The Reston Farmers Market, open on Saturdays, has a history of focusing on nutritious eating and says it’s also producer-only.
The Herndon Farmers Market and Annandale Farmers Market are both open on Thursdays. Like the other farmers markets in this list that are sponsored by Fairfax County, they are strictly producer-only. Their farmers and producers all come from within a 125-mile radius of Fairfax County. They even encourage their food artisans to use local ingredients in the creation of their products as much as possible.
One final note: Most of these Northern Virginia farmers markets do not allow pets within the market area. Sad as it is, please leave furry family members who aren’t service animals at home — especially during the summer months when it’s just too hot to safely leave them in the car.
So if you want your food to match your values (and if you want to make sure you get what you pay for!), get to know your local family farmers and food artisans and buy local. Like we say here at Seasonal Roots: It’s all about food that’s good for you and good for the planet… from people you know!
ABOUT SEASONAL ROOTS
Since 2011, Seasonal Roots’ online farmers market has connected Virginia families with local family farmers who use sustainable, humane practices. Our veggie fairies – mostly moms who believe in living better through scrumptious, healthy eating, being kind to animals, protecting the environment, and spreading joy – home-deliver freshly harvested produce, pastured eggs, grassfed dairy and meat, plus artisan fare. We empower our members to eat better and live better with more nutritious, flavorful food that’s good for us and good for the planet. More info at seasonalroots.com.