Do You Know the Source for Good Food?

Tis the Season for the Farmer’s Market, are you taking advantage of it?  In my not so humble opinion, the Farmer’s Markets have by far the best produce that you can purchase for your family, in other words, they are definitely considered THE SOURCE for good, local food.  And if you are pregnant you are at the HEIGHT of being concerned about what you put in your body, you are growing that baby and you want EVERYTHING you eat to be the healthiest possible and to be RICH in vitamins.  And let’s face it, if you are preggo or nursing, you are HUNGRY!  OK, so the myth was officially busted at the LA PAM Event last month by Dr. Greene, we don’t need to eat for 2 when we are pregnant or nursing, but you do need to eat a bit more, and you want what you eat to be as super rich in vitamins as possible.

Some people use their weekly trip to the Farmer’s Market as a family activity, kind of like a trip to a carnival or a big play date.  You literally could spend the entire morning at a local Farmer’s Market and have a wonderful time with your children and with other families as well.  I typically shop at 2 different markets per week, one mid-week and one on Saturday. I get the majority of my produce purchased in this way.

They are open during the summer season practically any day of the week, and near where I live I can find markets in the morning, the the late afternoon, and we have one in a nearby town on Friday nights that has amazing dinner vendors and rides for the kids.

At the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, any Sunday morning it is a Who’s Who of amazing foodies in the LA area including Anna Getty, Jules Blaine of Renaissance Mamas and Catherine McCord of WeeliciousHint Hint: If you see them, watch where they are shopping because they know where the best food vendors are and they have relationships with most of them.  I’m NOT suggesting you stalk them, just pay attention to where they are making their purchases.
At the Saturday morning Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, if you go early, you’ll see all of the local chefs of the best LA restaurants and their assistants with big wagons and crates going to all the different vendors for produce, which will then be made into amazing cuisines to be served to “oohs and ahhs” from their patrons later that evening and weekend.  It is not unusual to bump into Chef Akasha there,  she let me follow her around once and I learned so much!
If you don’t have that type of time don’t fret, a Farmer’s Market is still a place where you can easily pop in and out of for your grocery needs.  These days I am classified as one of those types of shoppers.  When my daughter was an infant and a toddler I would spend hours at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market or the Studio City one which has a petting zoo and pony rides.   It was a double activity, I would shop and buy yummy locally grown food and she would have things to do too.
Now that she is older my time management and her needs are much different.  But those days of lingering through the market allowed me to know my farmers and vendors well.  It also taught me about seasonal eating.  If you buy from a local farmer, you eat what is in season, they don’t grow cucumbers in June for example, instead you get strawberries, and kale, and green beans.  The convenience of Whole Foods or other organic super markets is that they are available 7 days a week, and you can usually buy almost any type of veggie or fruit, because if it isn’t in season locally, they buy it from another country and fly it to their stores.  You can still eat organic food that is flown in of course, but I think the fresh food from the local farmers just tastes better. Don’t you?

I can run in and out of the local farmers market in 15 minutes or less and be on my way to the rest of my weekend activities.

For those with more time or looking for a joint adventure try this.  At a local Farmer’s Market near my daughter’s school, parents come with kids in tow directly from pick up and sit with the kids on blankets.  The children play in the nearby park area while the parents shop and watch each other’s children, and take turns shopping.
I realize I have the luxury of living in Los Angeles and we have Farmer’s Markets seven days a week 52 weeks a year.  For those of you that live in other climates guess what? The time is NOW, it’s officially Farmer’s Market season in the US.  So take a look here and find one or four in a town near you:  Local Harvest.  Or talk to other mothers at mommy and me classes, your neighborhood park, preschool, prenatal yoga, the community of mom’s in your neighborhood will know where to go!

Local, organic food is the freshest and often the cleanest from pesticides and other chemicals.  YOU STILL NEED TO WASH YOUR FOOD BEFORE YOU EAT IT, SO DON’T BE SILLY.  I’m always shocked when a mom tells me she doesn’t wash her organic food…huh?  Seriously, there are plenty of bacterias that are passed on from handlers of folks making the fruit displays pretty’ (have you ever noticed that fields dont have sinks?).  Chef Mareya Ibrahim has plenty to say about making sure to clean your food before you let little hand grab and eat it.  I digress.

Now you know how to SOURCE GOOD FOOD, from your local Farmer’s Market.  Make the most out of this summer season.  Eat whole food, eat healthier, and savor the flavor!
Bon appétit!

Alisa Donner, MSW, LCSW, Co-Founder of PAM and a mom to an amazing wonder

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