Thursday Thoughts: This Little Piggy Went to Market

doesn’t this look beautifully inviting?

Long before man stumbled into his local co-op and blearily pushed a cart around brightly lit aisles deliberating over whether Crunchy Crackle Sparkle Nuts were better than Crunchy Crackle Sparkle Nuts with Added Glitter, there were farmers’ markets.

Wholesome places where people got together to celebrate the timeless art of growing your own food.

It’d been a while since hubby and I toddled down to our local market so we rectified that last weekend and it was kinda cool.

not as fancy as the above stall, but still pretty tempting

At one of the stalls I stopped and asked a woman if she had any guava. She shook her head and explained that it wasn’t the season for them.

This irked me until I realised how stupid that reaction was.

We’re all so used to getting what we want, when we want it, from supermarkets that we lose touch of the seasonality of food.

Guava lady reminded me of that valuable lesson so I bought a freakin’ tonne of sweet potatoes off her.

No idea what we’ll do with them all. Please leave any good sweet potato recipe suggestions in the comments section and help a blogger out (I’ve already got my eye on these Sweet Potato Gnocchi courtesy of the Scrumptious Pumpkin)

it’s like someone just vomited veg everywhere

Below is a woman selling her homemade potions drinks, jams and sauces. As I perused the selection, she pointed out the Ginger, Mint and Lemongrass juices saying: “they make you belch plenty”.

Long time ago, she probably would’ve been burned as a witch

I bought one of each and have been drinking them like a thirsty trooper at a roadside bar but no burping as yet. Stay tuned for further gas updates.

As we neared the outer limits of the market I spotted some fuzzy brown shapes in the distance. I turned to hubby, shrieked: “A petting zoo! A PETTING ZOO!” and galloped towards it.

these little guys just blinked at me sleepily

Naturally it was not a petting zoo (though that didn’t stop me trying to pet) but an enclosure for livestock farmers to display their ‘products’.

The products turned out to be teeny, tiny lambs, baby goats, donkeys and pigs…but the pigs were doing unmentionable things to each other so I refrained from taking any photos of them.

I love how wise and peaceful he looks through the bars of his cage. Like an incarcerated goat Buddha

Since I’m now clearly an expert at farmers’ markets, here are my top five tips for making the most of the experience:

  1. Make friends. This is a rare opportunity to interact with the actual producers of your food face to face. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – where do they grow the food? What pesticides do they use? Do they have any tips for cooking or preparing it?
  2. Get out of your comfort zone. Everyone gets stuck in a food rut, it’s only natural when you’ve a billion other things to do with your day than meal plan. Farmers’ markets are the perfect place to challenge yourself. Pick up something weird-looking (I went for a knobbly pear once that looked like some sort of torture device, it turned out to be sweet and delicious), if you’re unsure just ask the farmer what it is and how you’d prepare it. From such acts of daring come very creative chefs.
  3. BYOB. No, not bring your own bottle, bring your own bag. The people who sell at markets generally have a stash of plastic bags but this supply is finite and they will appreciate it if you bring your own. Plus who really wants all those things cluttering up your cupboards and ultimately your local landfill?
  4. Be a savvy shopper. If something has been sitting out a while and is looking generally old and past its best don’t buy it. Ask and you might find there’s a stash of fresher looking produce under the table or tucked away elsewhere. If not, move onto another stall and they might be able to provide what you need. Supporting local farmers is brilliant but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality to do so.
  5. Plan ahead. Food is seasonal so farmers won’t be able to display everything they produce each market day. It’s worth asking people what else they grow, when it’s available and if they are at that market year-round. This way you will know where to buy and when. Also it’s very useful if you want access to things like milk and cheese on a regular basis. Many farmers won’t bring their dairy products to market but that doesn’t mean they’re not willing to sell to you privately.

What about you: do you regularly shop at markets? What tips would you add to the above? Do you love petting zoos? Does ginger make you burp?

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25 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts: This Little Piggy Went to Market

  1. Sounds like those piggies were taking the idea of a petting zoo (a little too far, ha ha) as for markets we have a really decent one in Chinatown. Love those wired and wacky things you might see in a regular supermarket 🙂

  2. We have farmers markets here but not as amazing as the one you visited….! If we did I might use them more…LOL Totally jealous!

    That goat looks so Zen (286) – even when it’s being ‘shown off’ as a ‘ware’ it’s still kept in a good environment!

    J

    • Hi Jacquie, yep that goat was chilled out. Perhaps they put some sedatives in its food?! That would explain why it was so completely unmoved when I was shoving my camera in its face.
      Whatever became of it, I hope its new owners take good care of the beast.

  3. Lovely stalls and excellent tips. I loved the goat Buddha too. As far as I’m aware ginger doesn’t make me burp, only if it’s in a fizzy drink, but then it’s the fizz and not the ginger that’s responsible.

  4. Sounds like a fun excursions! Farmer’s markets are great, aren’t they? We have a good one in our area that I’ve got to since I was young. Lately I’m learning to stick to buying local whenever possible and learning to cook with only seasonal produce. It’s been a challenge but an enjoyable one since I know its good for the local economy and good for my tummy too! I don’t know if they have any in your area but around here some of the farms allow you to purchase a share of their crops ahead of season and you can pick up a box one a week of the harvest. It’s pretty cool!

  5. I’ll join the farmer’s market love chorus. Around here we generally have to wait for spring though, they all seem to close down for winter. I love eating seasonally because a peach in winter is unnatural and usually tasteless. I was just bemoaning the lack of a variety of produce in the stores. It all looks and tastes the same with no choices. For example, I know there are many varieties of tomatoes but in the store you only ever see the same ones. I need a little garden where I can grow my own. You are very lucky indeed!

    • It’s true, I am lucky to live in the land of eternal sunshine but we still haven’t figured out how to grow our own (we’re not stupid, we just don’t have the space or equipment). That’s the next step I guess.

      Thanks for joining in the love!

  6. I haven’t read yur comments to know if this has been said already: ‘Go the market early morning or afternoon’ If you wait until late afternoon/evening they would have run out of everything that you need- yes everything! I learnt my lesson on two occassions when I strolled up to the market at 5pm and they had no plantian and no yam *palm to face*

    • Good point, that hadn’t been mentioned but definitely should be noted. If it’s a really popular market it pays to get up at the crack of dawn.

      Mind you, I say that safe in the knowledge that I haven’t seen the crack of dawn for about ten years…does it still exist?

      • You’re asking the wrong person lovey! I always set my alarm for that time to get up for work- but it rarely happens 😛
        N.B. I would never advise anyone to go to the market at crack of dawn, but 9/10am is a feasible substitution!

  7. I am surrounded by a number of farmer’s markets here, but none of them compare to the one I frequent all the time, down at the beach. What makes them so wonderful? They have a strict policy and application process in which the farmers must be the ones who GROW & SELL the product. No middle man…all guaranteed to go directly into the farmers fund/community share. I love it.

    And I love that I can talk to the farmer/grower with my questions. They do know best!

    • Yep, good point Dena. There’s not a ridiculously long chain from the soil to the plate. I prefer my food preservative free.
      You have a farmer’s market at the beach?!?! Sounds like a great idea – catch some rays while shopping 🙂

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