By Andrea Paran, Communications Volunteer at Melbourne Farmers Markets

Shopping for your family’s weekly groceries doesn’t have to be a hurried duck into the supermarket or a late-night scan over the current online specials, and why should it be an unglamorous weekly task that you can’t wait to get over and done with? There are many great reasons to shop at a farmers’ market, here’s why you should take your family along with you!

#1: Spend quality time with your family

Start the weekend together by spending a Saturday morning wandering the market and connecting with each other after a busy week. It’s a great time to unwind, slow down and have a chat about your week, your weekend plans or even what you want to eat for the following week. Or make it a Sunday morning visit to reset for the week ahead. There’s always delicious coffee and breakfast from a local vendor to enjoy.

Photo credit, Deborah Keir

#2 Discover new foods

Unlike shopping in a supermarket, when you wander through a farmers’ market you can try before you buy. Producers are more than happy to let you taste a sample of their produce and have a chat to you about how it’s made. If you see something you’ve never tried before the producers will be glad to share some recipes with you and show you how to cook it. Discover delicious local cheeses and enquire about that olive oil. Did you know that you can also buy sweet treats and a variety of ready-made foods? Who knows, you may just be able to persuade little fussy eaters to find something new they love!

Photo courtesy of Boatshed Cheese

#3 Socialise and make new friends

Reconnect with the producers of your food. Instead of buying from a faceless corporation, a visit to the market lets you meet the local farmers and growers. Get to know their names and learn about their lifestyle. Make a weekend market date to catch up with your friends and socialise with the local community. You might just meet some new neighbours!

Photo credit, Deborah Keir

#4 Teach your kids about food

Use the market trip as a learning experience for kids. Rather than seeing all uniform sized fruits and vegetables that are wrapped in plastic, show your kids what real market produce looks like. Teach them about where their food comes from and let them meet the growers. The farmers market is a wonderful place to learn how a cob of corn is grown or to see the various sizes, shapes and colours that a pumpkin can be.

Photo courtesy of Sugarloaf Produce

#5 Get rid of the meal plans!

Instead of eating the same thing every week throw caution to the wind and create your meals based on what you find at the market. Buy what’s in season and try cooking something you haven’t seen before. Mix up your meal repertoire with something new and exciting for everyone. It’s a culinary lucky dip!

#6 Get outdoors and breathe in that fresh air

Shopping at a farmers’ market is the perfect opportunity to spend some time outdoors. There’s plenty of space for the kids to run around and you won’t feel bad about the noise they’re making! Soak up some sunshine or rug up and jump in puddles, whatever the weather the kids will love being outside and burning off their energy.

See you at the next Melbourne Farmers Market! There’s nothing else quite like it!