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How serious is your relationship with your farmers market?

farmers market peaches
“I really love your peaches, Want to shake your tree…” —Steve Miller Band (Photo:

It may be time to take your relationship to the next level. The one with your farmers market, that is.

Because just like going from casual coffee date to meeting the family, getting to know the people that produce your food is a crucial step towards boosting your health (and the planet’s), says Drew Ramsey, MD, author of 50 Shades of Kale and The Happiness Diet.

“Everyone agrees that eating more plants and whole foods is good for your physical and mental health,” Dr. Ramsey says in May’s Healthiest Year Ever tip. “And the simplest way to get on the right track is to shift your sourcing towards local farmers markets.”

Shifting, of course, is just the first step. Here, Dr. Ramsey helps us outline the four stages of getting cozy with (or committing to) your local farmers market.

Dr. Drew Ramsey, brain foods, 50 shades of kale, farmers markets
Dr. Ramsey is assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, a brain foods expert, and a farmer (Photo: Drew Ramsey, MD)

Stage 1. You’re seeing what’s out there. This is a stage that a lot of healthy people are in. “You’re interested in farm-fresh food, and you look for and enjoy farm-to-table restaurants,” Dr. Ramsey says. And while you’re helping support the relationship between restaurants and local farms, maybe you never actually see the farmer. (More on why that’s important, below.) So this level of commitment is like you’re occasionally “swiping right” on someone on Tinder but haven’t had a date yet.

Stage 2. You’re sleeping (er, shopping) around. “You’re visiting a variety of farmers markets in your area,” Dr. Ramsey says. “But you haven’t built a lasting relationship with individual farmers.” Just like it’s hard to date three people at once, this can be hard to maintain. What if you accidentally compliment a farmer on last week’s peaches, but actually you got them from the market on the opposite side of town? Awkward.

Stage 3. You’re interested in a farmogamous relationship. “Monogamous farm love is different than monogamous love,” Dr. Ramsey posits. “Farmers expect you to have a lot of other lovers because most of them specialize in just one thing.” (Score!) What farmogomous does mean is that you choose one farmers market and “make it work.” If you prove that you’re committed and they get to know your tastes, most farmers will start to bring you something special from the farm. (Like flowers?)

Stage 4. Marriage, AKA CSA. This is when “you’re getting a box of produce and recipes delivered to your home once a week, and you’re coming to the farm and volunteering,” Dr. Ramsey explains. A CSA means you’re involved and committed to a farm at a whole new level. Do we sense baby kale coming next season? —Jamie McKillop

In love? Find out more about the benefits of falling for a farmer this month here, in Healthiest Year Ever