It’s peak growing season in our Valley and farmers’ markets are overflowing with abundance. When the days are long and hot, it all comes in at once. Raspberries, tomatoes, corn, eggs—it feels like everything is in season this month (yes, even eggs have a season).
There are lots of big and small reasons to choose to shop local at a farmers’ market. Maybe you think it’s good for the environment or want to keep your dollar circulating in your local community. Maybe it’s something fun to do with your family on the weekend, or you know the ranchers who have a market stall, because they’re your neighbors.
Whatever your favourite reason for supporting local food, there is one we can all agree on: we want food that tastes really good and we know farmers’ markets have tasty food by the truckload. But why does local food taste better?
Large-scale, commercial farms often use only one type of animal breed or plant variety. These varieties aren’t selected for quality or flavor, but for their yield and their ability to travel well over long distances. Produce is often harvested before it is ripe and products aren’t sold directly to consumers, but to distributors who ship your food hundreds (or thousands) of kilometers. This is how you can get some of the exact same varieties, year-round, whether they are from Canada or Chile. And why it all kind of tastes the same.
But did you know there are over 10,000 varieties of tomatoes? 10,000! And have you ever heard of Warba potatoes? Or Kohlrabi? Have you tasted pork from a Gloucestershire Old Spot or the blue eggs of an Ameraucana chicken?
Farmers’ markets support smaller producers who handpick varieties like these for their adaptability to your region, for their culinary uses, and for their flavour, aroma, and texture. Produce is harvested within 24 hours of being sold at market, and always at peak ripeness. Animals are raised outdoors, weather-permitting, on diets that are better suited to their anatomy (goodbye corn, hello grass). This is why farmers’ markets carry unique types of produce, meat, and dairy that always tastes so fresh and full of flavour.
There are farmers’ markets across the Valley, from Canal Flats to Golden, running Wednesdays-Sundays. You can find a Market Trail schedule on our downloadable guide at foodandfarm.ca. Can’t make it to a market? Many Valley retailers are working hard to source and promote food from local producers too. But the season isn’t long! So grab a tote and shop local food, because you know local tastes better.