In case you haven’t noticed, the weather’s taken a turn for the gorgeous lately. And there’s almost no way I’d rather spend a sunny Saturday morning in Atlanta than perusing the fresh, local-grown goods at our city’s many amazing farmers markets.
As a self-proclaimed farmers market fan-girl, I feel like I’ve seen the best and worst of the market scene. I’ve made mistakes and learned tricks to get in and out with three kids in tow and a bounty of the finest living foods nature has to offer. Here’s what I’ve learned about doing Atlanta’s farmers market scene like a champ.
My Favorite Metro Atlanta Farmers Markets
Brookhaven Farmers Market: 1375 Fernwood Cir NE, Brookhaven, GA 30319, http://www.brookhavenfarmersmarket.com
*The Bar Method Atlanta will be a sponsor at the Brookhaven Farmers Market starting Saturday, April 22nd! Stop by for fun Bar Method events, pop-up classes, and other fun ways to learn about what we do.
Alpharetta Farmers Market: 1 South Main, Alpharetta, GA 30009, www.alpharettafarmersmarket.com
What’s to love: This might be my favorite market in North Atl. They have a gorgeous floral selection and one of the largest varieties of produce I’ve found.
Hidden Gems: Look for Capra Gia Goat Cheese- super fresh and bursting with flavor. Also, there’s a lemonade girl, not sure of her company name, but she’s always there with a juicer and her lemonade is the real deal.
Roswell Farmers Market: 38 Hill St, Roswell, GA 30075, www.roswellfam.com
What’s to love: This used to the Riverside Farmer’s market down by the Chattahoochee and has re-located behind city hall every Saturday. The organizers have committed to keeping this market about supporting hyper-local farmers.
Hidden Gems: Hanalei Bath is usually there with wonderfully natural handcrafted soaps. I have their scent “Dirty Hippy” in my bathroom, it’s anything but dirty- smells super clean and perfectly earthy.
Morningside Farmers Market: 1393 North Highland Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30306, www.morningsidemarket.com
What’s to love: It’s the only market in town that requires all vendors to be certified organic.
Hidden Gems: My daughter is a Lacrosse player and the Moon Organics Foot Kit has revived her poor feet after the worst beating time and time again. Red Earth Organics makes a crazy-good blueberry jam that my daughter asks for every time we go. Also, treat yourself to the 26th & Popped Tasted White Cheddar, Simply Butter & Sea Salt or Classic Caramel fresh-popped corn.
Grant Park Farmers Market: 600 Cherokee Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30308, www.cfmatl.org/grantpark
What’s to love: It’s one of the largest and longest running farmers markets in the city and was voted “Best Farmers Market” by Creative Loafing and Atlanta Magazine.
Hidden Gems: Because of its in-town location and popularity, this market pulls some big-name chefs- like Hugh Acheson, Kevin Gillespie and Virginia Willis- who do free cooking demonstrations and workshops every weekend.
Getting the Most Nutritional Bang for your Buck
So you’re committed to buying the freshest, local-grown veggies around but don’t have Gwyneth Paltrow dollars to drop. I mean, who does?
Or maybe you’re just pressed for time. Here’s a quick guide to the most nutritionally dense southern-grown produce available during three farmers market seasons. *Note that since farmers markets typically only carry produce from local farmers, this list is not the same in all areas. This list is specific to Georgia and some food’s harvest seasons carry over into other seasons (i.e. bell peppers are available in summer and early fall).
|Tart Cherries||Anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, meltonin (great before bedtime)|
|Cantaloupe||Vitamin A and C, beta-carotene, fiber|
|Kale||Vitamin K, B2, B3, E and A, calcium, protein, omega-3 fats, phosphorous, manganese and copper|
|Spinach||Vitamin K, B1, C and A, zinc, protein, choline, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, fiber and phosphorous|
|Beets||Vitamin C and B6, iron, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, fiber|
|Cucumber||potassium, magnesium, vitamin c, silica|
|Eggplant||Vitamins K, B6 and B1, niacin, potassium, manganese, copper, phytonutrients, fiber|
|Shallots||Anti-inflamatory, anti-bacterial, potassium, vitamin B6, manganese, folic acid|
|Zucchini||Copper, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, b vitamins, magnesium, fiber, protein|
|Blueberries||Vitamin K and C, manganese, fiber, copper|
|Strawberries||Vitamin C, potassium, folate, fiber, antioxidants, biotin, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B6, and omega-3 fats|
|Garlic||Potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium|
|Vidalia Onions||Vitamin C and B6, fiber, folate, potassium, manganese|
|Bell Peppers||Vitamin A, E, C, B2 and B6, folate, molybdenum, dietary fiber, vitamin pantothenic acid, niacin, potassium|
|Apples||Vitamin A, C, E, K, fiber|
|Brussels sprouts||Vitamin C, folate, manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, choline, copper, vitamin B1, potassium, phosphorus and omega-3 fatty acids|
|Garlic||Potassium, iron, calclum, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium|
|Pomegranates||Vitamin C, K and B vitamins, antioxidants, potassium, folates, fiber|
|Sweet Potatoes||Vitamin A, B6 and C, iron, fiber, potassium|
|Rutabagas||Vitamin C and B6, fiber, zinc, thiamine, manganese, calcium|
The Dirty Dozen- Where Organic Matters Most
Most of us would love to buy everything organic, all the time but that’s not always possible for a number of reasons. In these situations, it’s important to know which foods matter most when it comes to buying organic.
The Environmental Working Group continually updates its “Dirty Dozen” list. These are the fruits and veggies that are most susceptible to toxic chemicals for a number of reasons. As the agriculture laws change and as we learn more about the impact of pesticides on our health, this list changes, so it’s important to check back regularly. As of this month, April, 2017, the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list of foods especially important to buy organic includes:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
Tips for getting the most out of your trip to the farmers market.
- Bring plenty of reusable bags, it’s eco-friendly and vendors run out of bags later in the day. I keep a bunch of reusable grocery bags inside a larger reusable bag in the truck of my car and return them there the moment after I put our groceries away (otherwise it doesn’t happen). The Bar Method will soon have some re-usable bags to offer you when you come in and shop with us at the studio, Be sure to save them for your upcoming farmer’s market trips!
- Bring a rolling cooler. It warms up quickly on a sunny day and a cooler means you can take your time without worrying about meats or cheeses going bad.
- Leave the dog at home. I know, it seems like the perfect doggie day out, and almost all outdoor markets allow dogs, but I’ve always regretted bringing our pup to the farmers market. Most markets get crowded, then our arms are crowded with bags and it ends up being not very fun for anyone, including the dog! Make it easy, and let Fido sit this one out.
Bonus Tip: If you’re ever out of town and looking to meet people or find things to do, hit up the local farmers market! Last week, my family did spring break in Seaside, FL. Look at these colorful gems we found, and the locals were just as sweet! We may make the farmers market our first stop every time we’re on vacation!
Do you have any favorite markets or hidden gems to share? Please do in the comments and happy farmers market tripping to each of you!