You can’t get much more local than your favorite farmers’ market. These sustainable marketplaces present a unique opportunity to meet the people who grow your food, connect with your community, and explore the best in local farm fresh produce.
On a deeper level, food is meant to be experienced as close to the source as possible. With the powerful impact of the processed food industry, it is increasingly difficult to know exactly where your food comes from. Buying at a farmers’ market means taking ownership of what you put into your body and knowing exactly where it comes from. Similarly, when you only buy from grocery stores, you and your children never see produce in its natural state. At a farmers’ market, you see fruits and vegetables with stems, leaves, husks and bits of soil still on them, without plastic packaging or identifying stickers.
WHY SHOP AT A FARMERS’ MARKET?
Taste the Difference
Produce from the farmers’ market almost always tastes better. It is picked at the peak of ripeness and is incredibly fresh when it gets to you. If you start adding farmers’ market produce to your cooking, you’ll be amazed at the difference in flavor and texture. Farmers’ markets offer the freshest food around (sometimes just hours from the fields) so you get top-quality, perfectly ripe flavor. Fruits are allowed to fully ripen in the field….no long-distance shipping, no gassing to stimulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage. Try this: buy a tomato from the supermarket and a gorgeous heirloom tomato from a farmers’ market and then taste them side by side. What do you think?
Enjoy the Season
Some nutritionists and scientists suggest eating seasonally available foods is better for your body, because humans ate seasonal products for thousands of years before refrigerated shipping changed all that. The food you buy at a farmers’ market is seasonal. Shopping and cooking from the farmers’ market helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in your region. As you look forward to asparagus in the spring, savor sweet corn in the summer, or bake pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the turning of the year.
Better for the Environment
Eating locally saves vast amounts of packaging waste and energy required to ship food around the globe. At the farmers’ market you can find meat, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass, and eaten natural diets. Along with conserving fossil fuels, small family farms produce less environmental waste in the form of carbon monoxide, pesticide use, and chemical fertilizers.
Become Part of Your Community
The farmers’ market is a great place to gather where you bump into friends and meet local farmers face to face. Coming to a farmers’ market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. The farmers’ market is a community hub, a place to meet up with friends and bring your children. Visiting is a fun family activity and you can meet members of your community. Some farmers’ markets even offer entertainment and classes, making them a terrific way to spend an afternoon.
Support Local Farmers and Your Local Economy
Farmers’ market profits keep small farms alive. Family farmers need your support. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in this globalized economy. Most farmers’ market produce is grown within 50 miles or less of the market. This means that the farms are a source of local jobs and likely to spend money they make in the local economy. There’s no doubt that local farms have decreased in numbers over the years. Purchasing goods from farmers’ markets, however, supports local family farms giving them the valuable capital they need to keep operating and providing consumers an alternative to mass-produced foods.
Boost Your Nutrition
One look at the vivid colors of the gorgeous produce found at the farmers’ market and you’ll be able to tell just how nutritious the fruits and vegetables are. Much of the fruit found in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. Some of it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. These practices may have negative effects on human health. In contrast most food found at the farmers’ market is minimally processed and many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious products possible by using sustainable techniques, picking produce right before the market, and growing heirloom varieties.
Despite the perception that shopping at farmers’ markets is a habit for the well-heeled, prices are often the same or less than comparable quality produce at your local supermarket. Grocery stores tend to charge an arm and a leg for organic fruits and vegetables. At the framers’ market, however, they are typically not much more expensive than conventionally grown produce, and the benefits to your health might save you money on healthcare over the long term.