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How to Eat Local: Part 1 – The Farmers Market

November 4, 2010

In our journey towards eating locally and seasonally, we have had to alter not only the way we think about food, but also the practical application of where to get it from. The first step to eating locally is learning where to find it – and the best place to start is your local farmers market. 

Nashville has the advantage of several great local farmers market – many neighborhood markets which operate during the main growing seasons of spring through fall, and also the mainstay Nashville Farmers Market. These places are a great way to get started in the habit of eating locally and to know where and who your food is coming from.  Most markets are great places for not only produce, but local meats, dairy products, baked goods and much more!

However, I must recommend the farmers market (especially the NFM) with a footnote of sorts. Just because it feels like you are getting it straight from the farm down the street, I caution you to not be so easily convinced.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Nashville Farmers Market. Any market that can tout that they are open 362 days a year is a cause for caution. Farming and produce have natural seasons, and while there are some great winter vegetables, no farmer is pulling food out of their soil 362 days of the year.

At least not in TN – perhaps in CA and South America they are so lucky. 

What this boils down to, is that even though there are real people standing there day in and day out waiting to sell you vegetables in the open air – many of them are getting that produce from the same distributors as your grocery store. Commercialism at its finest, still trying to find the cheapest way to fill the needs of the consumer, in this case folks like you hoping to make a difference in our food culture and local community, only to be jiped. 

All that to say – I still highly recommend checking out your local farmers market (and yes…. even the NFM….) but do your research! The NFM offers a listing of their vendors on their website, so you have the opportunity to at least get familiar with names of a few local farms before heading on over. Most of the farms mark their stands very well – but if all else fails and you find some thing you just cant live without, ask the person working the stand where the item is from! If they don’t know, it ain’t local. Even if you go to the stand of a farm you know is local, its still not a bad idea to ask before you buy – sorry to burst your bubble, but those delicious looking avocados did not come from Tennessee. Even the local farmers feel they have to compete to an extent, so sometimes they do bringing items like Washington Apples in the fall, or avocados in the summer, so its up to you to just be smart about what you are buying. 

Below are a few vendors are the NFM that I have checked out, and recommend – and please feel free to comment with any others you love (or hate!)

Delvin Farms
Noble Springs Dairy
JD’s Country Milk 
Triple L Ranch

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