Buy What You Eat
By Meadow Scott
Sweet summer. Lazy days at the park, bike rides by the river, and backyard barbecues. More sunny days than we know what to do with. The season of indulgence.
Summer at the Farmers Market is just as lush. Fat tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and curvy eggplants, not to mention peaches, plums and melons that drip sticky juice with no more than a stern glance. Summer is so much the season of luscious fruit that even most of our summer “vegetables” are actually, botanically speaking, fruits— tempting vessels carrying seeds for next year’s crop.
After a long, austere winter it’s easy to let the temptations of this abundant season get the better of you. Saturday afternoon may find you trying to make space for another dozen heirloom tomatoes amongst the piles still left from last week’s haul. Though it can seem a bit stiff, and terribly un-summery, I recommend taking just a little time to write down what sorts of foods your family regularly eats and how much you realistically go through in a week. This mental exercise can help you stay on track at the market, buy foods that fit into your weekly routine, and save money too.
My own grocery shopping is guided by two tandem principles that keep waste to a bare minimum— Buy what you eat; eat what you buy. If your everyone in your household eats a fresh tomato every day, then by all means, get a dozen. If you only eat tomatoes on a BLT once or twice a week, a single fat slicer might do. And remember to consider everyone that you are buying for. Although I myself love summer vegetables, my kids are wary of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and especially eggplant. But they do like carrots, chard, and broccoli. When I shop at the farmers market I have to remember to go easy on the summer superstars, and ferret out the remnants of spring.
Summer is a time of leisure and fun, and the farmers market is no different. My Saturday morning trip to the market is the highlight of my week. But to be a practical source for groceries, you do have to put just a little of the same pragmatic planning into a trip to the farmers market that you put into a trip to the grocery store. Delight in the bounty of gorgeous fruits and voluptuous summer vegetables, but don’t forget the potatoes, onions and greens that round out your week’s meals.
This Saturday before you head to the market, take a few minutes to think honestly about what your household eats in a week and check to see what’s left in the fridge. I think you will find your shopping much more efficient and affordable.
Summer Farmers Market Checklist
Salad Making Supplies
- summer squash
- grains and beans
- canned tuna