Eating au naturel: seeking out great food at a market nearby

At home, we aim to purchase most of our groceries at markets that offer organic products or farm-fresh ones. And we continue that pursuit even while traveling. We recommend you do the same. You will eat better, make a few friends, support local farmers and discover what food is supposed to taste like.

During the right part of the year, you can find farmer’s markets in many towns. But what do you do outside the prime selling season? Or those days when the farmers are actually farming?

Our solution is to hunt out the small stores that offer high quality foods. Outside of farmer’s markets, of course, it may cost more than that low priced fodder in most U.S. supermarkets. But, particularly, if you are traveling and spending a good deal of money anyway, it’s not a lot extra on your travel budget.

Even better, we’ve found that staying at places that offer some way of cooking, expands our grocery and eating options. We especially love staying away from hotels, preferring apartments or time shares, where you have your own kitchen, or some of the great hostels around the world (yea, Wellington) with common kitchens you can use. That frees us to dive into local markets, not just ogle their goodies. And we save more money than the extra cost of quality foods since we don’t have to eat all our meals out.

You don’t even need a kitchen to savor the quality of these markets, though. Fruit and many  vegetables don’t need cooking. Cheeses, breads and prepared meats or dishes will provide a pleasant picnic. And you can often find barbecuing options around town.

So here are some examples of little stores we found just last year within the United States.

In South Lake Tahoe, we uncovered a source of high quality organic meat and sustainably caught fish  (Overland Meat Market; www.overlandmeatco.com, 2227 Lake Tahoe Boulevard, 530-544-3204).

In Ruidoso, New Mexico, we found several resources right on the elongated main street of town:

– a natural foods store with assorted local fruits and vegetables, as well as frozen organic ranch meats (Wild Herb Market, 1715 Sudderth Dr, 575-257-0138)
– a seller of top quality local produce and frozen meats from nearby ranches, though it’s not very clear when he is open (Mario’s Market, 236 Sudderth Dr, 575-257-0367)
– several farm stands offering their orchard’s apples and other produce

In Sedona, we discovered Connolly’s, a local farmer with a newly-opened barn right on the main road, Rte. 89, who supplied us with excellent vegetables and fruit, as well as frozen meat from an Arizona ranch (www.connollysfarmersmarkets.com, 928-282-4691). For even more, we frequented the New Frontiers Market across the street. A small supermarket, they only offer organically grown produce, a wide variety of organic cheeses, dairy and meats. If the produce is not in season, you won’t even find it there. (www.newfrontiersmarket.com, 1420 West Hwy. 89A, 928-282-6311)

Yes, it often took some searching, for even many locals opt for the supermarket rather than support these sellers. But the internet let’s you find the good stuff much more easily than the typical phone directory. Just search on organic produce, meat or produce market, farmer’s market, etc. or try www.localharvest.org, for example.

So skip the supermarket when you can. Eat local and eat well.

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