We have the privilege of having been a part of the Hannibal Central Park Farmer's Market since its first year in 2015 (when we were pedaling handmade jewelry and such). We say privilege because it is truly just that. Our fellow vendors at Central Park are such awesome humans. We came in at the tail end (punny) of their first year after relocating to the park and they welcomed us with open arms. They are friendly and honest. We enjoy our Saturdays spent with them.
Stroll Vs. Roll. It's a pleasure rather than a chore that needs to be checked off of a to-do list. I would rather stroll the open air booths at the farmer's market on a Saturday morning with my family (maybe even my dog even though I am sure the state frowns upon dogs being so close to the food) than roll my squeaky-wheeled, dog-legging shopping cart through a stale smelling aisle with people wearing their pajamas. Don't get me wrong, box stores have their purpose in every community. We all shop at them and support them because we know people who work there. However, when I am able to get ANYTHING locally you can bet that is what I am going to do. I will save my toilet paper'ish purchases for the box store. Forgive me, Wal-Mart, but I sometimes feel like I live within your walls and the park is much prettier than you.
Where to start. It's nice to know where your food comes from. For instance, Betty's caramels have fattened me up (more) over the last year and I am here to tell you that if you have not had one (or 100) you MUST. Mary has been providing our diets with fresh herbs for years now. This year she will be our go-to for the clean, dog-friendly herbs we are using in our new recipe. In addition, The Large family (I always refer to them as "the pumpkin people" but they have WAY more than that) will be growing much of the healthful dog produce for our new recipe. Murder of Crows....don't get me started on her shortbread (drool). Old McDonald's has fantastic mushrooms. And tomatoes.......sweet POODLES....the tomatoes at the market, regardless of vendor, are always the most flavorful fruit-like veggie EVER! Hope Farms had the best watermelons last year (that I have ever had the pleasure of digesting) and Terripin Farms introduced me to the purple pepper which was beautiful as well as flavorful.
It is an interesting atmosphere, the market. I find it refreshing to be able to ask the source questions about the product I am purchasing rather than reading a label or searching the aisles for a store employee (that has no clue what they are talking about more than likely). The food is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavors because it is in season. The farmer's market is filled with people that are there for clean, local foods and wares. For that reason, they are all SMILES. That, too, is refreshing. It's just too lovely to be in the fresh air leisurely shopping and interacting with great people. It is also a dog friendly atmosphere. So you can bring your pup to taste our treats before you make a purchase. We encourage taste testing.
The current concept of a farmers' market is similar to those of yesteryear, but different in relation to retail. Most recently, consumers demand foods that are whole and fresher (spend less time in transit). For foods with more variety and charm. All of these things have led to growth of farmers' markets as opposed to box stores. I don't know about you, but we LOVE to see the people who grew our fruits and veggies, kneaded our bread, molded our soap, cared for our herbs, crafted our jewelry or, in our case, hand-cut our dog's biscuits. The interaction with all of the vendors at virtually any farmer's market is also worth the extra drive or effort it takes to get there.
Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping creates trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land, and air with toxic agricultural by-products. Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.
You are supporting your community- your neighbors. But more important than even that, you are consuming real flavors that will nourish you and your family. TONS of the food found in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. Some of it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. These practices may have negative effects on human health. In contrast, most food found at the farmers market is minimally processed, and many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by using sustainable techniques, picking produce right before the market, and growing heirloom varieties.
Last, but certainly not least (as briefly mentioned above), WE LAUNCH OUR NEW RECIPE AT THE FARMER'S MARKET ON MAY 6, 2017. Best part? THIS NEW RECIPE OF OURS IS MADE WITH INGREDIENTS FROM THE FARMERS AT THE MARKET. That may be our favorite thing about this recipe. It had taken us nearly a year to perfect it. It was sent to the lab to be tested on March 31st. Once we receive the results we will register and license it. Our sustainability goals are coming into place. Our love of this community makes it just that much easier.
The Hannibal Central Park Farmer's Market starts May 6th and runs every Tuesday (4-7pm) and Saturday (8am-Noon) until October 28th. You can check the hours and obtain more info by visiting their website or Facebook page (see links below).
Healthy habits and Family fun,