It may not come as a huge surprise to you that a lot of people in Germany shop at weekly farmer’s markets for their foods. But what you may not have realized is that not all of the food you are buying at these markets (whether they are open air or more permanent like the market we have in town) is not actually from producers in your area. Much like in America, Germans have slowly become more acclimated to having certain types of produce year round. But one tends to forget that strawberries, tomatoes or zucchini are not produced year round. Germany actually has a quite short growing season, so when you are looking for things like local berries, you’ll have a short window to shop in — and they might end up being a bit more expensive than the mass-produced hothouse stuff.

This weekend, I was flipping through the numerous sales fliers we get every week and I saw two big spreads about buying local foods at local supermarkets. EDEKA Südwest (in Hessen) has apparently come out with a line called Unsere Heimat which features products from Hessen and Germany. And I’ve mentioned the LandMarkt initiative that our local REWE participates in at least once before. LandMarkt is actually a venture with over 350 producers of all sorts of products (from eggs to goats cheese to Spargel) from all over Hessen.

Granted, most of these products are not from the farm around the corner from you (although they could be). But it’s still better than tomatoes from Holland or strawberries from Spain — or meat that has been trucked halfway through Europe before slaughtering and then back again so you can eat it. And when you don’t have the time to visit 4 different farms every week or have the willpower to not stop to buy something at every stand in the farmer’s market — I think what these local supermarkets are doing is a great alternative.

What’s so important about buying local?

  • Supporting local farmers and businesses
  • Boosting your local economy
  • Cutting down on travel time of your food (less fossil fuel use, pollution)
  • Local food tastes better because it’s picked ripe instead of totally green
  • Peace of mind about how this food was grown (in many cases it’s more humane, without antibiotics or chemicals)

Things to Buy Local in Hessen

  • Fruits & Vegetables IN SEASON– Learning how to eat with the seasons can be a bit unusual at first when you’re used to all sort of foods on demand — but it also gives you a reason to expand your cooking repertoire.
  • Dairy Products– Dairy farms may be harder to locate but our local REWE carries locally made cheeses, yogurt, milk and even ice cream.
  • Meats – Our butcher in town raises his own cattle for slaughter and makes sausages, and we recently found a poultry producer as well.
  • Fruit Juices – Rapps is one very large fruit juice company with awesome products.
  • Beer, Applewine & Wine – There are many alcoholic beverages produced throughout Hessen and German. Or you can ever make your own!

Are you a supporter of your local farmer’s market or a CSA member? Do the local supermarkets in your area have agreements with local farmers too?