July 20, 2019
There’s nothing quite like picking your first sugar snap peas of the season right off the vine and biting into that crunchy, flavorful goodness that defies even the brightest looking peas at the supermarket. And there’s just something intangibly empowering about walking out into the backyard and plucking up your very own greens to concoct a colorful salad that is both healthy and mouthwatering (since when are those words used in the same sentence?!) Seriously: garden fresh arugula, with its perfect balance of spicy and sweet, is drool-worthy.
But you don’t have to be a gardener to take advantage of the perfect storm of freshness, flavor, and nourishment that characterizes fresh veggies.
That’s where farmers markets come in.
I love farmers markets because it’s looking your farmer in the eye as you purchase glorious zucchini and bursting berries that were grown without pesticides; It’s bobbing your head to the sound of talented local musicians, and watching kids run across the grass while you swap seasonal recipes with other members of your community. It gives you an opportunity to soak up an incredible community vibe — a feeling that is sometimes elusive in this modern world of disconnect.
Eating fresh seasonal food inherently tunes us in to the changing seasons and connects us to the land that we live on and share with each other. In the process of purchasing local food, we get to support our hardworking community members that toil in the dirt, in the barn, or in the studio to provide us with stellar quality produce, meat, dairy, and artwork.
If you live in Merrimack County, you’re in luck: the region is teeming with vibrant markets from which to fill your baskets, nourish your body and ease any yearnings you might have for that deeper sense of community.
The Contoocook Farmers Market takes place every Saturday this summer in the village center from 9am-Noon. Here you can enjoy excellent live musicians while enjoying fresh baked goods, garden fresh veggies, herbal bodycare products and more. They operate a “You snap = we match” program, which means they accept SNAP/EBT benefits in exchange for tokens at double the value.
Plus, if you forget your cash, you can use your credit or debit card to purchase spending tokens.
The Live Music line-up for the Contoocook Farmers Market, courtesy of the Contoocook Farmers Market Facebook page.
At 8:30-Noon every Saturday from May til October, the Concord Farmers Market enlivens Capitol Street with organic fruits and veggies, fresh herbs and honey, maple products and more. Enjoy a European-street-market vibe while filling your totes with microgreens, jellies and premium seafoods in the shadow of Concord’s gold-domed Capitol building. Like Contoocook, the Concord Farmers Market partakes in the Merrimack County Conservation District’s SNAP/EBT benefit program.
Check out this list to find other farmers markets that do the Granite State Market Match program, located throughout the county in Canterbury, Penacook, Salisbury, Warner and other locations.
Local Harvest has a nifty search engine for finding markets near you.
For some people, getting creative and learning new dishes is part of the fun when it comes to eating seasonally.
For others, it can feel downright overwhelming.
Buy now, look up recipes online later!
Also, consider asking the vendors or your fellow market-goes for ideas if you feel lost. You’re all eating seasonally, so you’re all in the same boat!
When I first started attending farmers markets, I felt like an imposter, as if I didn’t belong there — like I might do it “wrong” somehow, without the systematic preciseness of the cash register line to march to. It can feel strange to go from cold grocery store aisles to the vibrant, communal experience of a farmers market, but have no fear: you and your community are in this together. So grab your basket and support your local growers!
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