Farmers Markets are the perfect way to grocery shop with kids. Like most great mom hacks, a trip to the local Farmers Market is both functional (you can check most of the grocery shopping off your list) and fun for the whole family. Here are four other reasons we will be visiting them all summer (and beyond) long. Plus, see below for a must-try recipe from the new book Tomato Love: 44 Mouthwatering Recipes for Salads, Sauces, Stews and More.
The Food is Fresher
Food that has traveled to your grocery store has not only been driven further, but sat a lot longer on the shelf. That means it’s less fresh, and has lost some of its nutritional value. Shopping through a farmer is as close to having your own garden as you can get.
It Also Tastes Better
Farmer’s markets will only sell what’s in season, and again, fresh from the dirt—and the difference in taste is huge. If you’ve ever had a farm fresh strawberry and then eaten its grocery store cousin, you’ll immediately recognize how much of an upgrade in flavor you get.
You Support Farmers
Shopping local and small is so rewarding, and to be able to support your local farmers (and lower your carbon footprint while you do it) feels great.
It’s A Learning Activity
This bears repeating, but a trip to the Farmer’s Market is not only helping you cross shopping off your list, it’s a kid-friendly, and educational, outdoor activity. They can peruse the stands, and learn about counting, money, colors and more, with more space to explore in a less crowded environment than a grocery store.
Grilled Cilantro-Basil Chicken Skewers with Orzo Pilaf
Makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup orzo
11/2 cups long-grain white rice
21/2 cups water
2 cups basil leaves
3/4 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
11/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 11/2- to 2-inch pieces
2 large zucchini, sliced into 3/4-inch-thick half-moons
18 ounces cherry tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for oiling the grates
Fresh cilantro and lime perk up the pesto-inspired marinade used to baste these chicken skewers. To get the end result good and saucy, half goes on before the skewers are cooked, then more is brushed on just before they come off the grill. The buttery pilaf served on the side is a nice complement to the charred chicken and veggies, and it’s one of my go-to sides all summer long. For best results, soak twelve 9- or 10-inch bamboo skewers for 30 minutes before assembling the kebabs.
- To make the pilaf, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and sauté, stirring frequently, until it begins to turn color slightly, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and sauté until the orzo is deep golden. Add the water, season with a few pinches of salt, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 18 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, make the marinade. Combine the basil, cilantro, oil, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, shallot, salt, and black pepper in a food processor and pulse to finely chop the herbs, scraping down the sides as needed. Set aside half the marinade in a small bowl.
- Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat.
- To prepare the skewers, thread the chicken, zucchini, and tomatoes in an alternating pattern onto each skewer, then place the finished kebabs on a baking sheet. Brush them on all sides with the half portion of marinade still in the food processor. Season with salt and pepper.
Excerpted from Tomato Love © by Joy Howard. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.
Here are some great Farmer’s Markets in Polk County:
Bilbrey Family Farm – Fridays 1 pm to 6 pm; Saturdays 8 am to 2 pm;
6488 Bilbrey Nursery Rd Auburndale, FL 33823
Walker’s Farm Fresh Produce – Daily 8:30 am to 6 pm,
6320 U.S. Hwy. 98, S. Bartow, FL 33830
Winter Haven Farmers Market – Saturday’s 9 am to 1 pm: the Market is located on the NE corner of 3rd St and Ave C SW
Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market – Saturdays, 8 am to 2 pm; Closed in August
Thursday Farmers Market in Davenport – Thursdays 9 am to 1 pm: 101 Adventure Ct, Davenport, FL 33837
Lake Wales 3rd Thursday Market – third Thursday of the month from 4 pm to 7 pm: Stuart Ave and N Scenic Hwy, Downtown Lake Wales