Tag Archives: farmers market shopping

Working Together for Healthy People and Healthy Land

VegetablesWhen Nourish Boston first came together about a year ago, our ambitions were broad: nutrition education, increasing food access, supporting local farmers, encouraging health and fitness, and connecting members of the Boston community with their food, the earth, and each other. A year later, these goals remain unchanged, but building partnerships has emerged as the key strategy in turning any of these ideas into reality.

There is an incredible sense of community in Boston, and there are many like-minded organizations that are working to promote and support health and wellness. Nourish Boston was not the first to imagine a city in which all residents feel a connection to the land and to the food that comes from it. Organizations cannot act in isolation, but rather we must work together in concert to achieve our goals. Engaging both the Boston area community and joining the collective movement of organizations working to make Boston healthy is crucial.

Fresh TruckNourish Boston has collaborated with the Fresh Truck to support their efforts to make healthy food accessible to all and to help individuals and families make more informed choices when food shopping. This past spring, Nourish Boston members joined the Fresh Truck team at Fit for a King, an Urban Field Day at Dorchester’s Martin Luther King Jr. K-8 school. Students and their families received healthy produce from the Fresh Truck, and learned about the sugar content of their favorite drinks, how to recognize a healthy meal or snack among unhealthy options, and tasted mashed sweet potatoes donated by the Haley House restaurant.

FIt for a King

How much sugar is in your drink?

Our volunteers have joined the Dorchester Community Food Cooperative, the Sustainability Guild International, and Earthseed Yoga in offering weekly community fitness and wellness classes to build their Bowdoin Geneva Hub into a resource for healthy activities. We have also worked with Taza Chocolate in a joint online education effort to encourage discussion around the importance of local, organic, and fair trade foods.

It is so important to work collaboratively when it comes to promoting healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. After all, great food is meant to be shared. Growing, sharing, preparing, and eating food with one another builds community.

To celebrate Food Day, Nourish Boston will be teaming up with the Mission Hill Health Movement by providing recipe cards and educational information about nutritional “super foods” at the farmer’s market in Roxbury Crossing on Tuesday October 22nd and in Brigham Circle on Thursday October 24th

In partnering with great organizations across Boston, Nourish is able to complement existing efforts for healthy living— and there are many! We’re proud to be just one of many passionate organizations fighting to improve access to healthy foods and encouraging community members to engage with their health, their community, and their environment.


10 Tips for Farmers’ Market Shopping

hot pepperShopping at a farmers’ market is a great way to enjoy a wide variety of fresh delicious food. Yet, even as new markets continue to open across the state, there’s a persistent myth that produce at farmers’ markets costs more than at supermarkets.

The reality turns out to be quite the opposite. Barry Estabrook’s 2011 Atlantic article “The Farmers’ Market Myth” cited a Vermont study that found mixed results: some items cost less at the supermarket, others cost less at the farmers’ markets. For organic produce, the farmers’ markets beat the supermarkets on every item but potatoes.

My own informal produce price survey found a similar pattern. In a July 2011 survey of produce prices at the Belmont Farmers’ Market and two area supermarkets, the farmers’ market had the lowest prices on the most items.

turnips-beets-carrotsMany farmers’ markets also double SNAP benefits up to a certain amount, allowing SNAP recipients to stretch their budgets even farther.

Even so, successfully navigating a farmers’ market takes some getting used to. Most of us are savvy supermarket shoppers. But most of us didn’t grow up shopping at farmers’ markets, and it helps to take a different approach.

Here are ten tips to help you get your money’s worth at the farmers’ market.

  1. Make a budget and take that much cash with you. You can’t be tempted to spend what you don’t have. If you are a SNAP recipient, check with the market manager to see if the market accepts – or doubles – SNAP benefits.
  2. Tour the market. Before you start buying, take a walk through the market to see what’s available this week. This will give you a chance to check prices and quality at the different vendors. Keep your eyes open for sales.
  3. Try new foods. There’s often a wider variety of produce available at a farmers’ market, and you can stretch your budget by trying something new. I’ve discovered some terrific new foods at the farmers’ market, including garlic scapes, pea shoots (or tendrils), squash vines, and beet greens.
  4. Ask for advice. See something new? Ask the vendor about it. They can give you recipes and tell you what to expect. Ask vendors what they recommend. You can also ask about growing practices. Don’t be shy: Most farmers say that talking to customers is a big reason for attending farmers’ markets.
  5. Buy in season. While the first tomatoes and peppers of summer can be expensive, the prices tend to come down once they are abundant. Get an idea of what to expect with this availability chart.
  6. Go early for best selection. If you absolutely, positively have to have an item, go early to make sure it’s available. If you can plan ahead, ask a vendor if they are able to save a particular item for you the following week.
  7. Go late for best prices. If you’re flexible, you may be able to get a better price at the end of the day as the market it wrapping up.
  8. Budget for a splurge item. Set aside a few dollars for a treat: a fresh loaf of bread, the first summer tomato, or a cookie.
  9. Check in with the market. Look for the market manager’s tent and say hello. You find all kinds of information here, from recipes to upcoming events to vendor information. Ask if there’s a market newsletter, or if the market is active on Facebook or Twitter.
  10. Have fun! Farmers’ market shopping is a more social experience than supermarket shopping. Get to know the market vendors and enjoy spending some time outdoors.
Becky Prior is an enthusiastic supporter of the growing sustainable food movement. She a board member of the Belmont Food Collaborative, Inc., which hosts the award-winning Belmont Farmers’ Market, and her photography of local agriculture has been featured in the Massachusetts Agriculture Calendar.