About Our Cover: Say YES to Farmer’s Markets

by Diane Landis

“People love to talk to their farmers,” says Chris Cirkus about shoppers at the West Windsor, NJ Farmer’s Market she manages. The market, located in the parking lot of the Princeton Junction train station, features 13 vendors selling everything from just picked vegetables and freshly caught fish to warm baked goods.

Cherry Valley Cooperative

Ms. Cirkus says she enjoys overhearing the questions customer’s ask the farmers. Some of the most common questions are:

When did you pick this? 

How should I cook this? 

How long will it stay fresh?

But Cirkus wishes more people would ask questions about the farmers lives such as:

How long have you been farming?

Were your parents and grandparents farmers?

West Windsor Farmer’s Market

Her favorite question to ask is: “If I cook this vegetable tonight, can I bring you a taste tomorrow?” Cirkus has been known to bring a bowl of her white bean and kale soup or her ratatouille, if its tomato season, to the farmers to show appreciation for their hard work to grow and harvest the ingredients.

“One of the best ways to support NJ organic farmers is to shop at a local farmer’s market. The produce only travels a short distance which means it is fresh, high in nutrients and easy on the environment,”says Adrian Hyde, Executive Director of Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA NJ), a nonprofit that supports organic farmers through education, events and technical assistance.Print

Ten great reasons to shop at a farmer’s market this summer.

1. Freshness – Just picked means crisp, juicy and full of flavor.

2. Seasonality  What better way to enjoy a strawberry or an ear of corn than straight from the farmer’s field in season.

3. Taste – Compare a store-bought tomato to a fresh tomato anytime and you will taste the difference.

4. Organic and Non-GMO – Not all farms are organic but when it is you can be sure that what you put in your mouth is also good for your body.

5. Nutrition – Just picked vegetables have not lost their nutritional value like those that have been trucked thousands of miles to the grocery store.

6. Variety – there is always something new and interesting to try such as Paw Paws which grow beautifully in NJ or new varieties of basil and lettuce or maybe Kohlrabi.

7. Supports NJ Economy – Buying from local, organic farmers keeps the dollars circulating locally and keeps our farmers farming.

8. Trust – It feels safe to know where your food is grown and who is growing it!

9. Conserves Fuel – The average meal in the U.S. travels 1500 miles to get to a grocery store versus about 10 miles to a farmer’s market.

10. Community – Farmer’s markets typically have live music and are a lovely place to gather and meet your neighbors.

There is a popular bumper sticker that says ‘No Farms – No Food.’ When you shop at local farmer’s markets you are saying ‘Yes to Farms and Yes to Real Food.’

West Windsor Farmer’s Market