Let's talk outdoor grocery shopping food athletes! What's the next best thing to buying the fresh food you find at the farmers market? Well, meeting the farmers that actually grow the food themselves! They are as kind and friendly as their vegetables are tasty and nutritious.   I'm a native Cali girl, so I don't know much about raising vegetables on acres of land with livestock and tractors, but I feel quite at home strolling through these weekly pop-ups.  I think I've been to all of them on the Westside. I used to go to the Santa Monica one so often that I wrote a poem about it and the coffee vendor, petting zoo and breakfast burritos. Those were some of the best Sunday mornings I can remember. I would get there just after 8am when everyone was just starting to unpack. I love having first dibs and seeing the displays with all the produce perfectly stacked. Full baskets of berries, not one out of place, stacks of carrots, rows of peppers. Just plucked from the trees or vine or newly pulled from the Earth.  I get my pick of the litter. Luckiest girl in the World.  Without a doubt, you can find organic goods at grocery stores but for me, since I'm just speaking for myself here at The Food Athlete, it's all about the experience. Being outdoors, everyone has baskets to carry their treasures, wearing big floppy sun hats. Sometimes there's a band, or pony rides, face painting and I've even seen animal balloon artists. 

Miatake mushrooms and orange and green bell peppers from Venice.

Miatake mushrooms and orange and green bell peppers from Venice.

Bouquet of basil from Venice farmers market.

Bouquet of basil from Venice farmers market.

 
Switch it up by using fresh herbs for salads, soups, and fish or pasta. There's a definate change of flavor if you spice it up with fresh vs. dried spice.  I've just started growing my own little herb garden on my patio. It's working out quite well. Try this cure starter kit from Terrain

Switch it up by using fresh herbs for salads, soups, and fish or pasta. There's a definate change of flavor if you spice it up with fresh vs. dried spice.  I've just started growing my own little herb garden on my patio. It's working out quite well. Try this cure starter kit from Terrain

Farmers markets aren't just all about the grub. Well, there's some damn good food at these events, like crepes, pastries, omelets. And OMG, the samples. I have to say the best one to attend if you want to get some quality, variety and generous samples of treats, is the Malibu Market Sundays from 10-3 at Cross Creek.  It's small but mighty.  It has unique  flowers like these gorgeous larger-than-life dahlias I snatched up. Oh, and some next-level buckwheat chocolate chip cookies that are probably the most decadent, yet healthy cookie I've ever had (which says a lot because I'm picky about my cookies)  spectacular authentic Greek yogurt with fresh figs. Let me put it this way, if this is your day, sightseeing the pacific ocean as you drive up the coast, spend the morning at a street market picking out the top of the line produce and original food finds then you are living my friends!

Deep purple dahlia from Malibu Farmers Market. 

Deep purple dahlia from Malibu Farmers Market. 

So, why the farmers market versus your local grocery store?

No. 1:  Like I said before, it's an experience, a way to connect to your community.  Meeting the people who grow these nutritious delights is worth the adventure. To see their eyes light up when they explain their process of creation with so much passion and honesty. Farmers do this because they love to, no food can grow unless there is love and what is displayed at these markets is all love. 

No. 2:   By shopping at these markets we can support the farmers, who in turn need to support their families. 

No. 3:   There are so many interesting genres of fruits and veggies. I always discover something new and unusual at these venues as opposed to a trip to my neighborhood grocer.  Like mini watermelon cucumber, pluots, romanesco, buddhas hand.  Variety friends, I'm gonna preach it a lot here at The Food Athlete so get used to it, don't be afraid to try new and different foods. Variety is the spice of life, right?

No. 4: Fresh, fresh, fresh! When the food you buy has just been picked 24 hours earlier it's going to be needing consumption ASAP! The fresher it is the more nutrients it packs. The more nutrients retained in the food the better for your body and soul. Can't you just feel how happier your body is when it's absorbing foods that are in their natural raw state? 

No. 5:  I talked a little bit about this on Meatless Monday. Buying meats, dairy that's raised friendly is always a smarter choice. You will most certainly, always know that these products are humanely treated.

No. 6: Eat more fruits and veggies. Find fresh whole ingredients to cook with. Eat the rainbow. Balance nutrients with mindful eating. Consume a variety of real, not processed foods. Know what is in your food so you know what you're putting in your body.  Enjoy your food. Have fun.  Cook for yourself or your family. Teach your kids smart food habits that they will have for the rest of their lives. These are just some of the basics and essentials I teach my clients at The Food Athlete and these farmers markets are a solid representation of what I believe to be true about food and the values I teach. 

Mini watermelon cucumbers from the delightful and magical Ojai Farmers Market

Mini watermelon cucumbers from the delightful and magical Ojai Farmers Market

Now I know why I see people with their push carts of culinary feasts at the farmer's markets. I've easily carried around 30 pounds of freshness over my shoulder in a cloth bag and it's not a good situation for anyone back, let alone mine. This just goes to show you that we are living in a world that wants to follow a more natural path when it comes to nurturing our body mind and soul. I feel confident that these markets are helping to educate by providing us with the vital, real, whole energy sources we need to thrive every day. Plus if you really take the time to speak to each vendor, each farmer, they have incredible epicurious suggestions about how to cook what they have grown for you. It's very special these strolls I've taken here at culinary wonderland. I invite you to visit your local shopping fair and as for me, as always I look forward to you sharing your experiences with me.  Thank you for letting me take you on this journey today. Happy Farming!!

Be Happy, Be Healthy, Love Your Body,

xx Jessi (your Food Athlete)

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