June 16th will bring back the best part of summer in Salem, the Salem Farmers' Market! When my Cad was just a tiny baby I needed something to look forward to each week. The Farmers' Market got me out of the house, buying healthy local foods, and networking with other moms. After a few trips there I started inviting other moms to walk from my house down to the market. We got some exercise and enjoyed winding our way downtown with our "baby parade".
As I have gotten more comfortable with the vendors at the market I have also gotten more comfortable asking about what they used for pesticides, what produce is organic, and what isn't. Some farms grow their produce the exact same way as farms that are organically certified, but they are working on their certification process, or cannot afford it. That's why it's important to ask questions and get to know the vendors.
This brings me to the two categories of produce: The Clean 15 and The Dirty Dozen. The Clean 15 are considered safe to consume in non-organic form. They are onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, and sweet onions. The Dirty Dozen are fruits and vegetables that you should always buy organic. When grown conventionally (non-organic) they are often found to have a very high level of chemicals even after they have been washed. The Dirty Dozen includes celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, collard greens, cherries, potatoes, imported grapes, and lettuce. Of course, you can't get some of the more exotic stuff locally grown, but it's good advice to carry with you to the grocery store.
When we head down to the market we make an afternoon of it. We bring reusable bags, cash, and I always keep my "Mumma knife" with me. My Mumma knife was a gift from my hubby, it's a small pocket knife that's ideal for cutting up fruit to share with friends. There is lots of opportunity for sharing with friends because at the Salem Farmers' Market there are always kids everywhere! I think the market is especially lovely when there is a musical performance and all the children dance. The cooking demonstrations are great too, but are probably better appreciated by people who aren't chasing their son around. They were great when he was little and quiet.
I feel closest to the Salem community when I'm at the market, it's a great place to bump into the mayor, or other elected officials. As the Summer fades into the Fall the market helps to usher in that magical feeling of October in Salem. It's a wonderful event that makes this city feel like a small town each week. I hope to see you there!