The bounty of ripe, rainbow-hued fruits and vegetables is nearing its peak locally, which may mean a trip to the nearest farmers' market is in order. We've got a few pointers to make it a pleasant, sanity-saving trip for the whole family.
1. Grab a light snack when you first arrive to keep hands busy and hangry-ness at bay (for at least a few minutes). Baked goods, fresh-squeezed orange juice and berries are all good, easy options.
2. Have a shopping list. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the sprawling selection of delicious foods at your fingertips. Knowing what you need and sticking to it (more or less) will make your trip much more efficient and enjoyable.
3. Let each child pick out one thing. A fruit or vegetable that they choose all on their own (and might actually eat!), or the flavor of pie for dessert, or a loaf of bread -- just letting them have some input can turn it into a delightful experience instead of an errand.
4. Allow them to sample (when offered, of course) the goods. In addition to nibbling on juicy blueberries, you might discover that they like a certain type of cheese or garlic-stuffed olives or a spicy black bean salsa. It's a simple way to expose their tastebuds to new flavors.
5. Chat with the vendors. This can be tough when the kids are running off in different directions, knocking over sugar peas or tripping up folks as they walk past. But you get to learn about where your food comes from, and the kids just might end up with a complimentary flower, balloon animal or whatever treats many thoughtful vendors keep behind their tables.
So head out there and support your local farmers, bakers and artisans. Check here for a list of farmers' markets across Southwest Michigan.