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Buying Local – it’s the Next Big Thing: where to find your local markets

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Nutrition is like fashion. One week we’re drinking kale and coconut water smoothies and the next we’re soaking our almonds to ensure adequate activation (it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand that statement).

Not unlike fashion, most of these nutrition trends are gone as quickly as they came. And, just like denim, blazers and black will always be accepted as mainstream fashion; so are the tried and true, evidence based nutrition trends that stick with us for the long haul.

One of these trends, I predict, will be sourcing and buying our food locally.

Sustainability in nutrition is a very quickly growing area of research and the more one looks into the global food system, the more one realises just how far our food travels before it gets to our plates.

The concerns with sustainability are broad and complex and I’m not going to go into them, mostly (if I’m honest) because I don’t fully understand the whole picture.

However, when it comes to food miles (how far a food stuff has travelled between the farmer and you), you start to realise how inefficient the system is and wonder how long it can go on like this.

It’s this concern that I believe is one of the drivers that has birthed the newest trend of buying local and the rise in popularity of the farmer’s market.

It baffles me that the concept of sourcing your food from local farmers is a trend. It makes complete sense to eat food that’s been grown locally and that’s suited to the climate and environment in which you live. Those of you who’ve been buying your produce from farmers markets for donkey’s year would probably agree with me. But alas, this is the new, modern world in which we live. Fast paced and connected on a global level like never before. Therefore, you can be eating a fish caught 10,000km away, three months after it was caught, coated in a batter made from ingredients originating in three or four different countries. Not to mention, serve it with vegetables grown and harvested in a third world country a few weeks earlier. It’s outrageous really, when you think about it.

As a nutritionist, the idea of buying local food is one that sits very nicely with my food philosophy. Good nutrition is the result of good overall diet quality and a quality diet consists primarily of whole, fresh, minimally processed foods.

The other great thing about buying your food locally is that you begin to eat seasonally. Eating seasonally has many advantages: Food can be eaten fresh, food tastes it’s best and also contains a maximum amount of nutrition, particularly in terms of vitamins. Fruit and vegetables (the cornerstone of a healthy diet), in particular, start losing their nutrition as soon as they are picked or harvested. Eating seasonally also encourages good nutritional variety throughout the year because the available foods changes over the weeks and months.

It’s a great idea to challenge yourself regularly to cook and try new fruit and vegetables each season as the produce changes. You might be surprised at how vast your food repertoire becomes. Seriously, there could be a local foodie inside you just dying to get out! Set them free!

I reckon there’s something very satisfying about getting away from the normal, crazy pace of our current lives, putting on our comfy weekend clothes, grabbing our enviro bags and heading off to the local farmers market. You get to chat with the people that actually grow your food. How cool is that? Many of the farmers will also have ideas on what to do with the produce, how to cook it and how to best store it once you get home.

Finally, buying locally is great for our farmers and local economy. A community that supports its members is a great community indeed.

Whether you do it out of the goodness of your heart or you want to ‘stick it to the giant supermarket man’ why not head to your local farmer’s market this weekend.

Find your local market

The Capital Region Farmers Market is the largest regional markets in the Southern Tablelands. Discuss what you’re buying with the growers. Learn more about the food you’re eating and the region it comes from. On every Saturday from 7:30am to 11:30am at Exhibition Park in Canberra.

Anyone who loves farm-fresh, regional, seasonal produce, and who wants to meet the person growing their food, will love Canberra Farmers MarketsThese are: Northside Farmers Market from 2:30pm to 5:30pm on Saturday afternoons at the University of Canberra, and Southside from 8am to 11:30am on Sunday mornings at the Woden CIT. Both have a relaxed, village feel, friendly atmosphere and a great variety of produce every week.

Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets are a Canberra institution and Canberra’s oldest markets. They offer a great range of fresh produce including fruit and vegetables, meats, seafoods, delicatessens and bakery products.

Belconnen Fresh Food Markets offer a wide selection of speciality stores where you’ll be spoilt for choice, discovering gourmet ingredients to create delicious, healthy meals for the whole family.

Choku Bai Jo, the farmers outlet, was set up by the Pentony Family in 2008, and sells produce from other producers that are at the Capital Region and Canberra Farmers Markets, as well as producers not able to make the markets. The goal for the shop was to give farmers another outlet for their fresh produce while making it easier for the public to access fresh produce. Open from 2pm-7pm Monday to Friday, and 8am-1pm Saturday at the North Lyneham shops and Curtin Shops.

Old Bus Depot Markets 

The Old Bus Depot Markets are held in Kingston every Sunday – as well as fantastic handcrafted goods, it’s home to great local producers of everything from meats, bread, fruit and vegetables to macarons and chai! Find your favourite stallholder and visit the Markets each Sunday from 10am-4pm.

What other markets should we know about?

Farmers market image from Shutterstock.com

 

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9 Responses to Buying Local – it’s the Next Big Thing: where to find your local markets

Samantha says: 13 March, 2014 at 10:13 am

Great article Kate, a conversation worth having on Her Canberra. I dream of the day that local farmers markets are more popular than supermarkets! Wouldn’t that be great! I like the fact that I know exactly where my money is going, not on advertising or profit margins.
I also like the fact that you’re not bombarded with bright coloured fancy packaging or some whizz-bang ‘new product line’ made with zero nutritional benefit to the consumer but 100% benefit to the company (shows you how much they really care about Australia’s obesity epidemic).

Vivienne says: 13 March, 2014 at 11:47 am

A fair step from Canberra, but Kiama now has a Farmers’ Market every Wednesday from 3pm to 6pm. The produce has to be ‘local’ – this includes nearby Southern Highlands. It’s only been running a few weeks but is buiding up a steady customer base. The food is great. Today’s breakfast was Swiss Browns with radish tops on toast.Last night’s pre-dinner drink was apple cider.

Lizzy (Good Things) says: 13 March, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Great article, Kate! Thanks for this. Your readers might be interested in a book called The Field Guide to New South Wales Produce, published and written by The Locavore Edition.

Our farmers and food producers are, to my mind, the salt of the earth! And I think perhaps Michael Symons said it best in his book, One Continuous Picnic, Good food has never come from factory farms, process lines, canteens, supermarkets and fast food chains. It still belongs to careful vegetable gardeners, painstaking cheese makers and dedicated chef-patrons, meeting in the bustling market-place.’

Dee says: 14 March, 2014 at 12:25 am

Belco fresh food markets, are you kidding? The butchers are great but fruit and veg, no away….unless you like moldy, old produce. The amount of times I’ve gone there for fruit and veg and walked away disappointed is not acceptable for a place that claims to have fresh produce. Punnets of moldy tomatoes, strawberries, lackluster apples, old bananas, limp celery – too many to mention and not just limited to one store. I’ve even bought hummus and when I’ve opened it it had a layer of mold growing on it. I give it a go over and over as I want to support local produce, but not when it’s off produce at high prices. For that I may as well go to woolies or Coles. Fruit and veg store at jamo is 1000x better and reasonably priced. Let’s not advertise BFFM just because they’re a market, they need massive improvements in quality.

sue says: 16 March, 2014 at 4:28 pm

True local and sustainable produce is at the farmers markets.Hoards of trucks bring the other ‘local’ produce in from all over the country,just sayin’.

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