Words by Brandy Herr | Photography provided by Seventh Lens Photography

Americans have changed the way they look at food in recent years. Organic sections in big box grocery stores are growing and flourishing. Monthly home delivery packages for those who enjoy a culinary adventure are on the rise. Even fast food restaurants are beginning to offer vegetarian options. People are starting to pay attention to what they put into their bodies.

The local farmer’s market, a longtime companion of fresh produce, has now become a worthy competitor to the larger grocery companies. In Granbury, the locally-grown scene has exploded with a variety of options, allowing its citizens ample opportunity to choose the freshest ingredients for their home cooked meals.

The Acton Local Market began in 2015 by a small group of friends who simply wanted to create their own outlet for selling their products. It only took that first year to spark the attention of Hood County Development District #1 who reached out for collaboration. Since then, the Acton Local Market has expanded to include hand crafted soaps, canned goods, baked goods, and fresh eggs. Now coming into its fifth season, they “have something for everyone,” according to Stacy Grider of the Acton Local Market. The Acton Local Market takes place during the second and fourth Saturday of the month from April to September. Grider says she sees people of all ages and demographics shopping at each event.

Since the inception of the Acton Local Market, other options for fresh produce have “popped up” around Granbury, including the Pop-Up Farmer’s Market held at The Pan Handle every Wednesday during the market season. The popular kitchen store on Granbury’s historic downtown square has partnered with Scott Farms Produce from Cisco, Texas to provide the citizens of downtown Granbury with fresh fruits and vegetables each week.

The response received from this second farmer’s market has been encouraging. “Creating the concept for my in-store farmer’s market, and hosting it weekly as the growing season permits has boosted my already vibrant and growing retail business,” said Sara Monroe, owner of The Pan Handle.

The Pan Handle caters to shoppers who consider themselves “foodies,” those who love culinary experiences and getting the most out of their work in the kitchen. As such, the shoppers who frequent her Pop-Up Farmer’s Market tend to fall within that niche as well.

“Today’s farmer’s market patrons are those who appreciate and understand the love and labor needed to grow quality produce. People who love cooking good, fresh food at home and who are typically not big-box retail shoppers,” said Monroe.

If the citizens of Granbury are not content with purchasing their locally grown produce during select times of the year, a third option has recently sprouted. Roots, a family-owned shop specializing in fresh produce provided by local growers whom the owners have gotten to know by name. Practically locally grown themselves, Dwayne Andrews and his wife Debbie began their family business after having lived in Granbury for more than thirty-five years.

A staple of the farmer’s market formula is variety. Roots, like the Acton Local Market, has something for everyone to enjoy. “From our Black Rifle coffee, to our local honey, and our wide-ranging selection of both organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables, all the way to our line of Harry Potter offerings to our local meat and dairy products, we have it all,” said Andrews.

Though farmer’s markets might be one of the oldest ways for shoppers to purchase their food products, the rise of the big market grocer had previously pushed the smaller venues to the background. However, the ever increasing popularity of the organic movement has created a powerful comeback, turning the farmer’s market into a force to be reckoned with.

“There have always been produce stands and farmers markets available across our nation. What’s changed is the speed of the information market, coupled with customers desires to know what’s going into their bodies,” said Andrews.

“The organic movement caused the consumer to rethink their experience with purchasing food. Demanding better quality from reputable growers has been a huge catalyst in the foundation of the farmer’s market as we know it today,” Monroe said.

As more information is readily available, consumers are thinking more critically about what they ingest. People have become more health conscious and focused on longevity. Food can be fuel, comfort, fun, medicinal, or all of the above, and consumers are looking for ways to maximize its benefits. From fresh, whole foods to extracts and essential oils, people are beginning to understand and explore the wealth of options available to them.

“Take our elderberry syrup for example. With the ever rising costs of medicines and medical treatments and the extremely high costs of medical insurance, there’s a growing segment of our community looking for cost-effective, holistic approaches to their health and well-being. Elderberry syrup has been medically evaluated and is proven to help cut the average life cycle of the common cold,” said Andrews.

This new push toward health and wellness, to preventing disease rather than curing it, has a reach of influence that has hit the mainstream. Smaller, more local growers have burst back onto the scene as consumers want to put a name and a face to the foods they eat.

“There is an ever-increasing pool of resources to purchase locally/regionally grown produce, cheeses and meats online,” said Monroe. “Many big-box retailers are even tapping into this niche market.”

According to Grider, the organic movement has directly influenced the mainstream market. “Larger grocers now advertise where their produce is grown, especially produce grown in Texas,” she said.

The ability to purchase fresh produce is spreading to other areas that are less likely to be near a farmer’s market. Roots has recently created a delivery service of fresh meats and produce to those who might not be able to easily travel to their location on a timely basis.

And if it’s still not possible to travel to a location that provides fresh and healthy food ingredients? Grider has a simple solution. “Get your hands in the dirt and start your own garden! It doesn’t take much space to start a garden. The rewards are endless!”

The face of food is changing. No longer content to settle for foods with unpronounceable ingredients, citizens across the country are making the switch to locally grown goods.

“People crave an experience where they connect with the provenance of their food. Authenticity and quality are becoming the driving forces behind purchasing decisions in the culinary world,” said Monroe.

Granbury’s farmer’s market scene and its ever growing access to fresh foods and vegetables are allowing its citizens to eat healthy and stay healthy at a new level. As consumers continue to think more critically about what actually goes into the foods they eat, the smaller farmers will have a better chance to showcase their products and the care spent in creating and cultivating them.

“Customers want to know what’s going into their food, and going to a farmer’s market gives you the opportunity to ask the farmer what was used in the growing process,” said Grider.

Thanks to options like the Acton Local Market, The Pan Handle Pop-Up Farmer’s Market, and stores like Roots, the citizens of Granbury have several unique options to truly get to know their food. As the people work to boost their immune system, they give a boost to the economy of local growers and the businesses that feature them.