The Farmer’s Market! The one place where you can be fairly certain that everything available is a solid choice!
In this “Muscles and Muzzles” post, we’ll talk a little bit about that little slice of heaven, and how it can not only benefit your pets, but the entire household.
In a classic throwback to the shopping of yester-year, before the widespread reach of Amazon and other mega corps, the Farmer’s Market ruled the roost. Unfortunately, due in large to the industrial food giants, and technological advances in manufacturing/processing, these ma and pa stores are few and far between. But if you can find one, and better yet it’s close by, it will pay off big time!
Keeping in line with the “Muscles and Muzzles” theme, we’ll stick to the benefits of nutrition and food, in relation to Farmer’s Markets (though, you can easily make the case for small and local business benefits.) Below are just a small list of advantages, which we’ll go through –
- High-percentage of all-natural or organic
- Bulk purchasing / cost effectiveness
- Potential discounts, “haggle” (maybe!), other incentives
Let’s talk about the fresh aspect of food. One of the key benefits of food purchased at your local market is that the food is going to be fresh. While some Farmer’s Markets outsource and bring food from a whole bunch of places, you are more apt to find one that deals with a small handful of farms close-by. And this means that food is going to be fresher, and (hopefully) in abundance.
In-season food is a biggie, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. There’s a reason why your large grocery chains have giant displays of strawberries and blueberries at certain times of the year. They are currently in season! Nothing better than buying your apples and peppers at the height of picking-time! And if your favorite fruits and veggies aren’t in season, no reason to fret! Try something new! You (and your pet) may find a new summer favorite! Ever see a dragonfruit at a Farmer’s Market? Yeah, not too common! All that said, humans (and animals) evolved from eating what was currently available. It really wasn’t until salt and other minerals were added, to food, that added shelf time as a preservative.
As mentioned previously, Farmer’s Markets typically deal with a small group of local farms, and they do a whole lot of research in finding who to make deals with and what foods to bring in. It’s in their best interest to find the best foods available, and with the lowest amounts of pesticides and herbicides. The lack of those drugs sprayed on crops (for both our consumption, pets consumption, and cow/chicken/goat etc.) is a benefit to all – organic and all-natural foods are the way to go. The closest you can get to how nature intended, the better your body will absorb those nutrients. Better absorption means better digestion, and that goes for pets too! Same thing with cows, chickens, and other livestock. Anything you digest from an animal…you are digesting what they digested. So play it safe and do your research! It doesn’t make much difference if you buy grass-fed lean beef, if that grass was sprayed with nasty pesticides.
In the first “Muscles and Muzzles” post, we talked a bit about the misconception that buying Organic has to be extremely expensive. It’s all about finding deals and buying in bulk. With Farmer’s Markets, you really don’t have the middle-man that you’ll find in a lot of other retail industries. No obscene markups, no annoying apps or coupons to keep track of! They pretty much pass the savings off to the customer. Which makes it much more affordable to buy fresh apples in bulk, when in season, then a bunch of pineapple at the grocery store, when it’s not in season.
As with any business, regardless of what they may say to you, Farmer’s Markets are in it to make money. You don’t run a business in the red because you love fresh zucchini. But that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate customer loyalty. Find out their delivery patterns – you may be able to get a solid deal on those cucumbers, if they have a new shipment the following day. Get to know the people running the market, as well as the supporting farms. You’ll be surprised on the hook-ups you can get!
The above are just a small list of food-related benefits to frequenting the local market. Not to mention putting money back in the local community, helping out local farmers, and knowing exactly what you are getting, which leads us to the biggest benefit of them all –
The majority of foods in Farmer’s Markets aren’t going to have barcodes, or stuffed in a box. An apple is going to be an apple. Not processed junk. They won’t have a side panel of multi-syllabic words that would make most chemistry teachers blush. Like above, the closer to naturally-sourced, the better. And that’s a fact for you and your pets!
So you got the facts, but where do you start? Where in the world do you even find a Farmer’s Market?! Well, you could go out and drive around, but not everyone has time for that. Thankfully, there’s a handy Farmer’s Market Directory below! (Don’t let the “USDA” be oft-putting, at least this time!)
In our next “Muscles and Muzzles” post, we’ll discuss a bit about Protein! There’s a ton of different sources of Protein, some better than others. So be on the lookout for that!