Let’s be honest. We all have those moments… you know, when our kids eat nothing but bleached gluten for dinner, served with a side of red dye 40 and garnished with some high fructose corn syrup. However, as an avid farmers market attendee, I can vouch that I always leave feeling like I am winning. Mom:1, Kids: 0. If you’re a parent that has never browsed this glorious Saturday morning spread, I would love to highlight the Old City Farmers Market and share some of my favorite ways to embrace it with your littles in tow.
In an attempt to keep your whole squad on point throughout your farmers market experience, here are some ways my little family has strolled the market at different seasons of our lives. With one infant, I found it most enjoyable to wear her and carry a produce basket, which simplified nursing. With an infant and a toddler by my side, I preferred shopping with hooks attached to our double stroller to hold reusable produce bags. Now that we are past the infant stage (sigh), I travel with my tribe and our goodies in a wagon. Disclaimer: none of these methods will eliminate the inevitable reality of meltdowns and diaper explosions.
Once parked and unloaded, you will hear my pre-schooler exuberantly making requests, which is always followed by me declaring, “Okay, but first… coffee!” We head over to Growers Alliance to get a hot cup of certified organic Kenyan coffee, for Momma of course. Then (obviously) big sister is thirsty, so we buy her a handcrafted drink from Cultivate Tea & Spice Co. The owner’s daughter loves her Daddy’s Floral Fusion iced tea, so we trust her suggestion. This tea is made from chamomile, hibiscus, rose hips, lemon grass, dried orange peel, peppermint, and stevia leaf. It is organic, caffeine-free and naturally calming, so I contemplate refills for my high energy, busy bee. At this point, my one-year-old starts making baby dinosaur noises, so we visit our friends at Hugo’s Muffins. Seriously, do you know the muffin man? If you don’t, you need to try his vegan, gluten-free muffins. Our two favorites are zucchini walnut carrot stick and vanilla pear ginger.
My four-year-old loves to be an equal consumer in this shopping experience, so these are some ways that I let her in on the fun. Every Saturday morning, she packs her sparkly purple purse with four dollar bills and other various items, like a screwdriver and princess nail polish to name a few. You know, the norm. Her first stop is always at Vern’s Peanuts, where she uses one dollar to buy three honey sticks. Nature’s candy instead of crap candy. (Winning!) Next, she heads towards Shorty Boys Old Fashioned Kettle Corn, where she exchanges one dollar for a kid-sized bag of sweet and salty kettle corn. It is made with only corn kernels, corn oil, sugar, and salt, making it naturally gluten and dairy free. Sort-of-healthy popcorn instead of not-at-all-healthy popcorn. (Score! If I am lucky, she shares.) Then she heads to Olive My Pickle, where my little rascal gives a dollar and gets two pickles on a stick, one for her and one for little sis. These pickles are extra special because they are lacto-fermented, an old-world process that creates loads of naturally occurring probiotics, live cultures, and enzymes. (Mom game: STRONG.) Finally, she juggles her goodies over to the live entertainment, which is provided by a group of local musicians who come together at the center of the market to jam. After devouring her treats, she uses her last dollar to tip her musical friends.
We can’t just leave the market with honey sticks, pickles, and kettle corn, so the babes hop in the wagon as we shop for our weekly produce. Since I strive to be one of those annoying organic moms, my favorite produce stands are KYV Farm and Frog Song Organics. Both farms grow and sell a variety of certified organic seasonal fruits and vegetables and Community Supported Agriculture. We prepare for our farm to table meals by purchasing local caught fish from Sea Shells Seafood, seasonal strawberries from Crawford Farms, raw goat cheese from Terk’s Acres Dairy Goat Farm, and grass fed beef from CartWheel Ranch, which is free from antibiotics and growth hormones.
My favorite mommy indulgences are natural shea butter from Flour Sack Creations, locally grown plants from Garry’s Bonsai and Orchids, and a vegan pistachio, rosewater, cardamom lime cookie from Blue Bird Cookie Company. Some snacks our family eats on a weekly basis are raw cashews from Nut Shack Inc, raw creamed honey from Stubbees, and organic, sprouted, raw walnut butter from Blue Planet. Since the farmers market ends at half past noon, our last check on our to-do list is to choose lunch from the variety of healthy, prepared foods that the market offers. Our favorites are refreshing acai bowls from Big Island Bowls, or Tanzanian vegetable curry from African Love Kitchen. It is usually in the moment when I hear my generally picky eater ask, “Can I eat my curry now?” that I realize I have won, no matter how many diaper explosions or meltdowns went down. Well, for today at least.