When asked about why he shops at farmers markets, Ilir says, “Quality is a must.” Ilir shops at the Worcester Regional Environmental Council farmers markets for his family, including his wife and two children, ages six and three. He also frequently picks up produce for his father, who found out about the farmers market program while walking in the neighborhood. Ilir and his wife use the fruits and vegetables purchased through HIP to prepare a variety of different foods, including traditional Albanian cuisine. “We use a lot of vegetables, always try to get fresh. It makes it more delicious and more healthy. The farmers market has fresh vegetables. You go in a store and don't know how fresh it is. You definitely notice the difference.”
Ilir notes that there is a big difference in how he shops for his family since the introduction of HIP, increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables he buys and choosing products that are in season. “Whatever is available, we try to get. Greens, salad ingredients, carrots, onions, and potatoes always. In the winter, I do the shopping since I drive.” Ilir learned about the farmers market from his father and notes that they were customers there before HIP but it was more expensive and they weren’t able to purchase as much.
In the summers, Ilir brings his children to the market, letting them pick new fruits and vegetables to try. “Of course, the fresher the better for the kids. They are a little picky but they will try what we make. We try to always offer vegetables and fruits every meal.” He notes how important it is for parents to be able to offer children a variety of options to try new foods at home.
“Not just me personally, but my parents and family, especially in the Albanian community, all support farmers, farmers markets. I think it (HIP) should be year round. It’s beneficial for everyone. There is nothing better than eating healthy, fresh, and local. It’s a win-win for everyone.”