August 10, 2017
Produce display at the Kittitas County Farmer's Market (Photo: KCFM website)
You can't beat our local grocery stores for great service and convenience. Whether you're the type of shopper who goes where the sales take them or someone who loyally shops at a single store, we all have reasons for the food shopping choices we make.
On weekends, there's another option in the mix: local farmer's markets.
Whether shopping in Ellensburg at the Kittitas County Farmer's Market, or in Upper County at the Roslyn Farmer's Market, both locations offer something you don't find anywhere else: direct contact with growers.
"Yes, our farmers are competing with large producers, but they're local, so they have the best knowledge of their produce," says Jen Lipton, board secretary with the Roslyn Farmer's Market. As a member of Washington State Farmer's Market Association, Lipton adds that while the market includes artisan crafts, "The majority of people visiting the market are getting produce. They're talking to vendors, asking them all kinds of questions."
Sometimes the vendors learn something, too - like how to make a tomato tart. "One woman was asking questions about the varieties of tomatoes for sale. She was looking for an assortment of types and colors for a tomato tart recipe she wanted to try."
Shoppers meet the producers at the Roslyn Farmer's Market (Photo: Klucking Images)
Another bonus to market shopping is the diversity of produce for sale. "One of our farm families sells a wonderful assortment of tomatillos, peppers, unusual squash, and other items people aren't finding elsewhere." Another vendor offers sprouts of all kinds, and, if you let her, Lipton could give you a market product list as long as your arm. Needless to say, there's a lot to choose from.
Clearly, Lipton is passionate about the world of produce offered at the market, and fruit is a big reason why. "When you shop at the farmer's market, you'll see all kinds of fruit produce that you might not be familiar with, or you wonder if it's really ripe. You can taste before you buy. That's something you can't do just anywhere." And with plums, pluots, cotton candy apricots, and donut peaches for sale, you're going to want to taste them. "Shoppers are always turning to the producers for advice, and they're happy to give it. They get asked things like, 'I'd like some fruits that aren't quite yet ready to eat yet. What crops are coming up? What's best for canning?'"
Those new to local farmer's markets find something they often don't expect - meat producers selling jerky and salami sticks, harvesting fresh salmon and halibut. No surprise: "People want to know where it came from, what it was fed." And, like everything else at the market, when you're buying directly from the farmer, the information is readily available - all you have to do is ask.
Managed by Kittitas Valley Healthcare, HealthNews does not provide medical advice. For medical advice, please see your healthcare provider.