Jun 21, 2011

Atherton Mill Farmer's Market

This is Charlotte specific, kind of. I've been going to the Farmer's Market at Kings and East Moorehead for years. The prices are good, the produce is fresh, and the people are very friendly. However, the only complaint I've ever had about it is that it isn't a real Farmer's Market. There are stickers on the produce, sometimes the strawberries are from California, and they always have avocados (which I LOVE) - but nobody in NC grows avocados! Where the heck did they come from? I make my checks out to Simpson's Produce - which means they're a produce company and not farmers. That doesn't make them evil, just not what I was hoping for. Well, just recently I stumbled across Atherton Mill Farmer's Market - in Southend (close to the intersection of South and East Blvd). It is a true Farmer's Market - with actual farmers selling their goods. And there is everything from fresh milk, eggs, cheese, and yogurt, to free range chickens and beef, to regular garden veggies, pickles, homemade breads, and even fresh roasted coffee! It's super cool - but kind of pricy. But even though I paid a whopping $2 for this organically grown cilantro (and I could probably buy my own cilantro plant for that amount), it's totally worth it because I bought it from the woman who grew it and she looked me in the eye and proudly told me that she used no pesticides or chemicals - 100% organic! AND she wrapped the bunch in an adorable bit of twine (I'm such a sucker for pretty packaging)! So yes, things are a good bit more expensive - but how can we blame them? The local farmers cannot compete with the mass food chains that can negotiate for enormous bulk discounts. They cannot afford to sell their tomatoes for $1.29/lb - because these are just local small farmers that only have about 100 lbs of tomatoes total for the entire year (totally pulling that number out of my head - but it is for dramatic emphasis). If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a super saver. I hate to spend more money on anything that I think that I can get cheaper elsewhere. However, there are some things that are worth the money. No matter where you buy Colgate toothpaste - it is the same toothpaste; it doesn't really matter. But it does matter where you buy your fresh produce. It does matter how they grow it, and what they put on it. So consider this your local service announcement: buy local whenever possible. Use your coupons to buy your toiletries and things you cannot buy locally - and then use your savings to support your neighbors! Look at what I made with my purchases from the Farmer's Market:
It's a 7 layer dip...that we ate with forks! Ok, I admit - not everything in this dip is from the Farmer's Market...but the key ingredients I got there made it possible. Homemade re-friend beans (just pinto beans, garlic and onion - super easy), sour cream, ground beef with seasoning, shredded cheese, avocado, tomato, and cilantro. So incredibly yummy and so insanely fresh! So if you live in Charlotte, check out the Atherton Mill Farmer's Market. If you don't live here - check your community to see if you can support the farmers that live in your area!!!! You may not save money in the short term - but you'll be healthier and it's so much more fun! And who knows, maybe it'll save you on your medical bills later! :D

1 comment:

Jean said...

I love this market because everything is so fresh there! It is adjacent to Evolution gym in Southend. Here is another tip for supporting community retailers. I found a Charlotte company, outdoorherbivore.com, that sells vegetarian dehydrated food for backpackers. I bought Chcikpea Sesame Penne, Lickety-Split Lentils, Coconut Chia Peel, Denver Veggie Scramble, and Balckened Quinoa for our July 4th trip to Grayson Highlands. I emailed them to see if I could pick up my order since I am local but zoning laws prohibit it since she sells out of her house. So, she gave me a discount code for 20% off! I just emailed her under "contact us" and she offered the discount. I can't wait to eat my dehydrated vegetarian food on the trail and feel good that I helped suport a community business!