I am big fan of farmers markets for so many reasons – but mainly because of the variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, baked goods and other fun things that are offered by people in my area.
Farmers markets serve as a way for people to purchase locally grown produce, and also provide a chance to connect with others within our communities. Purchasing local goods is an experience that promotes a sense of place and is important in helping people feel tied to their area.
Not only do farmers markets give us the chance to support local growers, but they are also great teaching opportunities for kids. Farmers’ markets allow us to talk to the growers and learn more about what it takes to get those green beans to our table. Local markets also give us a chance to discover new things, and even ask farmers for recipes. Letting kids pick their own fruits and vegetables is a simple way to encourage healthier eating, too.
Farmers markets also support the economy. The USDA estimates the total annual sales at U.S. farmers markets to be $1 billion. Not only that, studies show 60 to 70% of market-goers visit neighboring businesses on their way to and from the market.
Now is a terrific time to support your farmers markets and take advantage of nature’s bounty. Need more reasons?
1. Save gas.
Produce isn’t being shipped all over the country (or world) to get to your grocery store. Most vendors are with 100 miles of the farmers markets that they attend, therefore cutting down on pollution. The average distance our food travels is 1,500 miles, mostly by air and truck, increasing our dependence on petroleum. By buying locally, you conserve the energy that’s used for transport.
2. Less packaging.
You will notice that your household garbage produced from food wrapping/boxes/containers will be greatly reduced.
3. Freshness and peak flavor.
When you buy closer to home, it just plain tastes better and you feel a connection with the local organic farmers. Plus it’s more nutritious, since local produce is sold right after it’s picked.
4. Preserve genetic plant diversity.
Large commercial farms grow a relatively small number of hybrid fruits and vegetables because they can tolerate the rigors of harvesting, packing, shipping and storage. This leaves little genetic diversity in the food supply. Family farms, on the other hand, grow a huge number of varieties to extend their growing season, provide eye-catching colors and great flavor. Many varieties are “heirlooms” passed down through the generations because of their excellent flavor. Older varieties contain the genetic structure of hundreds or thousands of years of human selection and may provide the diversity needed to thrive in a changing climate.
5. Support local farmers.
The American family farmer is a vanishing breed – fewer than 1,000,000 people (less than 1%) of Americans claim farming as a primary occupation. It’s no wonder – it’s hard to make a living when you get less than 10 cents of every retail food dollar. By buying locally, the middleman disappears and the farmer gets full retail price, in turn helping farmers continue to farm.
Photo from here, with thanks.