July 23, 2012
Early summer is the perfect time and opportunity to visit your local fruit or produce stand. Many individual farmers or gardeners will open up stands alongside major roadways for your convenience. Do you stop at these roadside stands or just keep driving by? If you don’t stop, you should definitely consider replacing your grocery stop with one of these local wonders.
Your location will determine what types of fruit or produce you find at your local stand, but most stands will offer you high quality produce at grocery store prices (sometimes even cheaper). Most of these gardens are not certified organic as it is a long process; however, you can learn how they grow their produce just by talking with the gardener at the stand themselves. You will find most stands do not use pesticides and grow in as natural state as possible. Therefore, you can support the local community while receiving high quality produce.
If you look at the produce at the grocery store, you will notice that most of the produce is imported from overseas. This means that the produce has been in transit for some time, and was sprayed with a number of preservatives to keep it from rotting. Local produce, on the other hand, was most likely picked very recently and brought straight to the produce stand by the farmers themselves.
Produce stands, depending on location and farming variety, can also provide you a glimpse at some of the lost heirloom varieties of fruits and veggies that you just don’t find in stores. For example, a local produce stand may have 4-5 varieties of potatoes compared to the 2 main varieties you will find at the grocery store. You can open your cooking to a whole new variety of foods through these heirloom varieties.
You can also build relationships with your food providers. Can you say this about the grocery store? Sure you may know the grocery store manager, but do you know the farmers who are producing the fruits and veggies you are eating? Local produce stands offer you the unique opportunity to see first-hand the person who is producing the food you are consuming . You can also use these stops as a chance for advice on your own garden. If you are trying to grow tomatoes and seem to be encountering some problems, your local tomato stand owner may have the exact answers you were looking for. Many farmers will also give you the opportunity to take part in their local co-ops or farm shares if you are a frequent customer for even deeper savings on their produce offerings.
Next time you are driving down the road and see the truck backed up to the side of the road with a bed full of watermelons, give that farmer a chance to impress you with their quality items. Watermelon is one of our favorite roadside goodies during the summer in our area. We can find both red-meated and yellow-meated watermelons in a number of different areas and almost always have a watermelon in our fridge.
Do you visit your local produce stand? If so, what items do you look forward to purchasing most?