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Life in Balance: Farmers markets are a great adventure for food and fun

Published: Tuesday, June 19 2012 4:26 p.m. MDT

Musicians play at a farmers market in Salt Lake City on June 9.

Dian Thomas

Each year as the weather warms up, it is time for the farmers market. I am sure that one of the reasons I look forward to it is that my family always had a garden, and I know that I will get to taste some of the tastes I remember from my childhood.

My parents were raised in Heber and Coalville in the day when if you did not plant a garden and harvest what you grew, you would not survive the winter. So in our family, a garden was just part of our lives. My favorites were the green peas that are usually one of the first crops of the year.

A couple of weeks ago, the Salt Lake Farmers Market opened for its 20th year. With more 150 vendors, and everything from homemade soap to killer artisan bread to fresh picked green peas, you could find pretty much everything that can be harvested and created at this time of year.

There were even live beehives to show how the bees make honey, and a live country bands to make everything friendly and relaxed.

For me, going to the farmers market is now one of the things that I look forward to. With farmers market across the state, there are a lot to pick from.

For me, the farmers market is such an educational experience. It is my opportunity to speak to the farmers and learn about what they grow and also new ways to prepare the food. Most of the time you can find the person that grew the product there helping you to find the best of their produce.

This time at the market I discovered urban farmers. I met two urban farmers who find vacant plots of ground in Salt Lake Ctiy and turn them into beautiful gardens. They then bring their product to market.

I love learning about their journey. One of the urban farmers does not believe in using a gas machine, so everything that he does is done by hand. He even offered to let me come and see one of his many gardens.

Janet Stocks, a food teacher and vendor who sells wonderful raspberries and jams, said, "I believe that the farmers markets are one of the best opportunities we have to develop a relationship with the food that we eat." Sometimes the vendors let you take a sample.

I have created my own system for shopping the market. I get there close to 8 a.m. when the market opens. The crowds are small and you have an excellent opportunity to talk to the farmers and see what is for sale. I am always learning about a new vegetable and unusual variety.

For example, this week I found kohlrabi (which is like a turnip) on sale. Once I have done my survey, I make a list of what I want in my mind and then go back through the market making my selections. I then hurry home and prepare and store the items I have purchased for the week.

Don't miss this incredible opportunity to experience and enjoy a farmers market near you.

TV personality and author Dian Thomas shares her journey of weight loss, exercise and life on the run every other Wednesday in the Deseret News and at www.DianThomas.com. She also takes tour groups to China. Contact her at www.www.dianthomas.com/Travel

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