|Fabulous celtic musicians at Trout Lake market in summer 2013.|
- Fresh air! Doesn't matter what the weather's like, it's nicer to be outside for an hour than walking around under fluorescent lighting trying to figure out where to find that one elusive item on your list.
- Get a deal. There are always discounts to be had at the end of the market. In the summer we didn't make it to the Trout Lake market until nearly closing, but that meant we scored some AMAZING chocolate cherry bread for half price.
- Meet your maker. Wondering about pesticide use or the living conditions of your pork before it became sausages? You can often talk directly to the person who farmed the product at the market.
- Be entertained. When was the last time you enjoyed the muzak coming out of the tinny speakers at the supermarket? All the farmers markets feature entertainment, usually acoustic musicians, but also sometimes balloon twisters or even stilt walkers. I love just taking a few minutes to hang out & listen to some amazing live tunes & dropping a few coins into the open instrument case.
- Support your local economy. Buying from farmers markets cuts out the middle man & puts the money right into the pockets of farmers, ranchers & producers of handmade goods in your area.
- Make a meal of it. I love food trucks & there are always a few of them at the markets around the city. My personal favourite is the Creperie Boheme--crispy buckwheat crepes stuffed with delicious fillings & sauce. Look for the little round purple trailer with a huge long lineup out front.
- Variety is the spice of life. We always find an interesting new type of fruit or veggie at the markets. Heirloom tomatoes or carrots in every hue, the sweetest variety of cantaloupe I've ever had.
- Try before you buy. Most of the food producers offer samples of their wares: artisanal cheeses, crackers, jams, honey, salsa, fruit & vegetables. Being able to taste something new means I'm much more likely to buy something different from my usual fare.
- Not just food. I've bought some great stuff over the years at farmers markets: a unique sun hat from the Trout Lake market, a beautiful silver & turquoise necklace at the huge market in Kelowna, hand-knitted wool socks at the market on Saltspring Island.
- Rock star parking for cyclists. Trout Lake & Kitsilano markets offer the Bicycle Valet service. You can just ride up, hand over your bike (& child seat or trailer & helmets), then a lovely volunteer will park it for you in a closed off area. You get a little ticket & then pick up your bike when you've filled your (reusable cloth) shopping bags. Best part--it's free! (though donations are appreciated)
I know a lot of you won't be able to get to Yaletown on a weekday afternoon, but you could check out the Winter Farmers Market on Saturdays, from November 2nd, 2013 to April 26th, 2014. It's in the East Parking Lot of Nat Bailey Stadium at 30th & Ontario Street. This market is open 10am to 2pm weekly except for December 28th.
Location maps as well as interactive market maps with information on vendors are available on the Eat Local website here.
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