Farmer’s Market Guide
It’s the most beautiful time of the year, Kansas City. It’s farmers’ market season. Gleaming with sunshine, bustling with community, and overflowing with a bounty of fresh produce, farm raised meat and eggs, and more, the farmers’ market is where you can find me each and every Saturday morning.
There’s something about creating a weekly ritual around the farmers’ market—meeting the farmers, admiring and learning about the different produce, and loading up to nourish and fuel your body the following week. It’s also the best way to support our local farmers and economy, shop seasonally, save money, and care for the planet.
With Summer in full swing, let’s explore the abundance these eco- (and wallet-) friendly marketplaces have to offer.
Where to Find Your Spot
There are multiple farmers’ markets throughout the city—some focused on produce, others on entertainment and attraction—each offering something different.
For fresh produce during the summer, the Brookside, City Market, and Overland Park Farmers Markets are my favorite places to hit. For more scoop on my favorite markets in Kansas City, click here.
Find a farmers’ market that aligns with your beliefs surrounding food. Whether that’s if it supports local, sustainable, and organic initiatives, or just has your favorite pastry vendor–find a spot you can feel great about supporting each week.
Do Your Research + Be Aware That All Vendors Aren’t Created Equal
As much as I wish it was true: just because they’re at the farmers’ market, does not mean each vendor is legit. You have to do a little digging to make sure you’re actually supporting local, honest, and health-oriented Kansas City peeps.
Understand the difference between organic (must be USDA certified), local (must be within 100 miles), and all-natural (doesn’t mean much)—and what each of these mean to you. Study up on the market’s regulations that you’re frequenting, be weary of produce that is out of season or looks a little too perfect, talk to the farmers about their practices, and never feel guilty about asking questions—if a vendor is legit, he or she will want to talk your ear off about it.
KC pro tip: The Brookside Farmers’ Market has the strictest regulations surrounding farmers in the city—which makes me biased, of course, but it’s definitely my favorite!
Know What’s in Season
More on this later–but eating seasonally is hands down one of the easiest ways to eat healthfully. It’s a surefire way to ensure the most nutrient-dense and tastiest veggies you’ll get your hands on. It also supports farmers that choose to grow sustainably, which helps to preserve the environment. Not to mention that the veggies that are seasonal are least likely to contain pesticides, waxes, and preservatives. A win, win, win, win as Michael Scott would say.
What to look out for:
Spring: Strawberries, asparagus, peas, younger tender greens, apricots, cherries
Summer: Tomatoes, peaches, plums, blackberries, raspberries, summer squash, eggplants, hot peppers (late summer), chard, beets, winter squash
Fall: Winter squash, pumpkins, persimmons, pomegranates, kale, chard, beets, carrots, root vegetables
Winter: Persimmons, pomegranates, greens, chard, kale, winter squash, root vegetables
Wake Up Early + Make a Day Out of It
Some of my best memories are waking up before the rest of the city, throwing on a pair of leggings, and walking to the farmers’ market with my sweet mama. We’d grab a juice or iced matcha, take our time exploring and strolling, and embrace all the beauty that surrounds it. Plus, they weren’t lying when they said early bird gets the worm—and in this case, the worm is that handsome bundle of kale or last carton of farm fresh eggs from your favorite vendor.
Hit the ATM beforehand. Some vendors are transitioning to credit/debit checkouts, but most still only accept cash. And to be safe, go with smaller bills—you’ll be surprised with how much basil you can snag for a couple bucks!
Bring bags! You’re already supporting the planet by shopping local, so may as well bring ‘er on home and reduce all unnecessary plastic/waste. I bring a large grocery bag (or, if you follow me on @veggiebellie, you know sometimes my wagon), then smaller mesh produce bags as well. Reach out if you need help finding some of your own!
Don’t Judge a Bok Choy by Its Cover
The most beautiful thing about the farmers’ market? The imperfection, unknown, and diversification. Stay away from perfectly looking produce, embrace the veggie you’ve never cooked before, take home that weirdly shaped eggplant (okay that sounded wrong), and eat the different colored heirloom tomatoes – you’ll thank me!
Like I mentioned earlier, and I mean this: if a farmer is legit, he or she will be open to (and will love to) talk about his or her family’s farm, practices, and food. Don’t hesitate to ask about the veggie you’ve never seen, how to prepare a certain buy, or how to store the bounty you just bought. It’s my favorite way to become more comfortable with seasonal, foreign produce, all while getting to know the farmers.
Go Weekly + Don’t Over Buy + Prep When You Get Home
I look forward to the farmers’ market each week—seeing familiar faces, catching up with your favorite vendors, and setting yourself up for success the next week. Going weekly creates a ritual, a day to look forward to, and a routine that your mind and body will forever be grateful for.
Start small! Don’t overload or overwhelm yourself on your first trip. Start with familiar produce, but don’t be scared to brand out a little. When you get home, rinse, dry, and prep your veggies for the fridge–your future work-week self will thank you.
Have Fun + Practice Gratitude
We are so lucky to have access to fresh, local, nutrient-dense food. Get creative, practice thanks, and get cookin!