Why Farmers' Markets Matter
Nowadays, consumers are demanding more local produce partly because they enjoy putting a face to the farmer who grew it. As such, farmers markets are becoming an important part of the food industry, and the environmental benefits that go along with it – reduced transportation costs and reduced vehicle emissions – are creating a driving force for the increasing popularity of these markets. This trend toward being a 'locavore' is indeed building up a lot of steam and getting stronger and stronger.
Furthermore, farmers markets have the potential to shift the local economy of their community by encouraging consumers to change their diets and eat seasonally. This would allow more money to circulate within the region and spill over to other local businesses.
Apart from the nostalgia, a farmers’ market may engender, the sense of community created and the good food they provide, why is it important to support our local farmers’ markets? If you're not already shopping at one, here are our top 15 reasons why you should.
The fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmers market are the freshest and tastiest available. Fruits are allowed to ripen fully in the field and are brought directly to you—no long-distance shipping, no gassing to stimulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage. This food is as real as it gets — fresh from the farm to your table.
Many farmers participating in local farmer’s markets use organic methods to grow their produce. Most label it as such, so you can be certain you are purchasing chemical-free products. They also are more likely to use non-modified seeds. Organic farming is better for the soil, the environment, and your body.
The food you buy at the farmers market is seasonal. It is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavours. Shopping and cooking from the farmers market will help you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in your region. As you look forward to asparagus in spring, savour sweet corn in summer, or bake pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the turning of the year.
In our fast-paced, technology-based world, our children have little or no connection with our food supply. How food is produced is abstract and distant. Supporting your local farmers’ market means you can educate them, and you, about how we get our food and what it takes to produce healthy food of excellent quality.
Family farmers need your support, now that large agribusiness dominates food production in the U.S. Small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalised economy.
A regular trip to a farmers market is one of the best ways to connect with where your food comes from. Meeting and talking to farmers and food artisans is a great opportunity to learn more about how and where food is produced. Don't be shy, ask the purveyor exactly what sustainable and organic practices were used in growing the food.
For the sheer nutrition you get from farmer’s market produce compared to supermarket produce, it’s excellent value. Grocery stores tend to charge an arm and a leg for organic fruits and vegetables. At the farmer’s market, however, they are typically not much more expensive than conventionally grown produce.
Food in Western countries travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses significant amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), which contribute to pollution and creates trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land and air with toxic agricultural by-products.
At the farmers market, you find an amazing array of products that you don’t see in your average supermarket: red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, stinging nettles, green garlic, watermelon radishes, maitake mushrooms, and much, much more. It is an excellent opportunity to savour the biodiversity of our planet.
At the farmers market, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and eaten natural diets, and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of feedlots and cages that are typical of animal agriculture.
One look at the vivid colours of produce found at the farmer’s market, and you’ll be able to tell just how nutritious the fruits and vegetables are. Compare that to produce at the grocery store, and you’ll see that the supermarket fruits and vegetables pale in comparison. Vivid colours in fruits and vegetables are a reflection of the nutrients they contain.
Few grocery store cashiers or produce stockers will give you tips on how to cook the ingredients you buy, but farmers, ranchers and artisans at the farmers market are often passionate cooks with plenty of free advice about how to prepare, store and work with the foods they are selling.
Wouldn’t you rather stroll amidst outdoor stalls of fresh produce on a sunny day than roll your cart around a grocery store? Coming to the farmers market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. What's more, a farmers market is a community hub — a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children or just get a taste of small-town life in the midst of our wonderful big city.
Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and genetic modification. These practices may have adverse effects on human health. In contrast, most food found at the farmers market is minimally processed, and many farmers use sustainable techniques, picking produce right before the market, and growing heirloom varieties.
Many supermarkets receive their produce from hundreds or thousands of miles away. This involves the significant use of fossil fuels for shipping on refrigerated trucks and rail cars. Famer’s market produce doesn’t have far to get from the farm to your table, significantly reducing the use of fossil fuels.