Saturday, September 19, 2015

Apples to Apples

I'm only kind of severely obsessed with fall. Autumn. Whatever you call it, wherever you are. I love it to bits, although nothing will ever compare to the one-of-a-kind vibrant harvest months that I grew up with back in Pennsylvania. 

I've had a hankering for all kinds of autumnal foods (freshly picked apples and sweet corn, to name a few), so this morning Steve took me to this country farm store near where we live. How we've never been before, is a mystery to me. It's reminiscent of so many country and Amish markets from my home; fresh produce, preserves, baked goods, leather goods, local dairy... Basically a country chef's wet dream, and here it was just down the road from our home the whole time! 

I hear the argument all the time, "it's too expensive to shop like that on a regular basis." Well, you're wrong. Sorry. But a major part of changing the way we eat is changing the way we shop, and markets are the way forward. Please, please leave the negativity at the door and give your local one a try. 

The biggest reason is quality. Food that has been grown with care on a smaller scale and picked at the peak of its ripeness tastes leagues above anything you will buy in a supermarket. Try a store-bought apple versus a freshly picked ripe apple any day and you will see the difference instantly. 

Variety is number two. You can get things you'd never see in the supermarket, like heirloom tomatoes (which most stores don't sell because they're not as "visually pleasing" and therefore "less likely to sell"). Heirloom varieties and obscure and unusual fruits and vegetables may only be grown by a hobbyist or small scale farmer, so your local market is the place to find them when your supermarket has the same-old-same-old year round. No one wants a mealy tomato in January. Learn what's in season (or look at prices and what's available at your market; that's usually how you can find out what's fresh right now). Buy local, shop local, and you can ensure that the freshness and variety will continue to be available. 

If you don't go to a supermarket, you don't wander down aisles of prepackaged, processed junk and even non-food items that you don't NEED. We stayed within budget, bought a wider variety of [nicer, locally grown, organic] produce than we could ever get at a supermarket (and nothing was wrapped in plastic! Imagine that). Then a trip to the local butcher on our high street for sausages, a beef joint for roasting, a rack of ribs, and some pork pies, and we STILL came in under our usual grocery budget for the week. Yes, I will probably have to go to a supermarket to pick up laundry detergent later in the week. But everything in the house is fresh and gorgeous, and that quick pit stop in the supermarket will be for the one or two items I need and nothing more. That is how you shop. Buck the trend. Give it a try yourself. You won't be sorry, I promise.