1. Support Local Family Farmers and Businesses
Buying from locally owned family farms is a win-win situation. Sadly the family farm is becoming an endangered species. Large agricultural corporations are taking over the marketplace and the small U.S. family farms are having a difficult time competing. (If you have any doubt watch Food, Inc.) Buying directly from your local farmer gives them a better return for their produce and gives you the opportunity to support local business in today’s globalized economy. You are able to enjoy food that was grown in your local climate and is seasonal for your environment which means you are getting the most fresh, most nutrient dense and delicious fruits and vegetables that you can buy. Your money will be staying in the area and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you supported a local family business.
2. Taste Fresh Seasonal Flavors
Eating produce that is in season makes sense. It tastes better, grows with minimal intervention (often requires less water than produce grown out of season) and is naturally ripe and ready to eat. Fruits are allowed to ripen in the field and can be brought straight to you at the Farmers’ Market. No long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage and transport losing vitality and essential nutrients. The food is as fresh as if you grew it in your backyard.
3. Enjoy More for Your Money
Often Farmers’ Markets have fresh, organic produce at more affordable prices than supermarkets. Many Farmers’ Market vendors have produce that is pesticide and synthetic fertilizer free for much lower prices than can be found at the grocery chains. Farmers often offer free samples and special deals for multiple purchases (e.g., Organic Artichokes might be $2 each or 3/$5) and repeat customers. The money that is saved by eliminating warehouse storage, traveling shorter distances and having less (or no) corporate overhead is passed along to the consumer. Eliminating the middleman means more green (pun intended) in your pocket! Buying in season saves money too. Ever notice how expensive strawberries are in the winter and how they don’t taste very good? Our local Farmers’ Market was selling three huge baskets of delicious juicy organic strawberries for $7 last week.
4. Eat Nutritiously and Safely
Produce found at your local Farmers’ Markets has been grown in fertile soil, picked at its peak of ripeness and is minimally processed resulting in the most nutritious fruits and veggies you can buy. Breads have been freshly baked with no preservatives. Farmers’ Market products are also generally safer from bacterial contamination because the food has not been processed in an industrial setting or stored in warehouses which are more prone to contamination.
5. Protect the Environment
Eating food grown and sold locally supports the environment by reducing the use of fossil fuels. The lettuce you buy from your local farmer didn’t require lots of energy and petroleum to ship it half-way around the world. Shipping food thousands of miles across the U.S. or worse, from other countries, contributes greatly to pollution and creates excess trash with disposable packaging. Farmers’ Markets attract farmers who practice sustainable agriculture. Since organic farming practices are easier on the earth, buying organic from your local farmer supports good land stewardship.
6. Protect Your Health
Being surrounded by tantalizing produce encourages you to eat more fruits and vegetables. If you suffer from allergies or hay fever buy some local honey – it has been said to contain components for allergy prevention perfectly tailored for your area. Honey produced by bees in your area contains immune stimulating properties that may help your body adapt to environmental allergies. Read more about the Health Benefits of Locally-Grown Raw Honey.
7. Find More Organic Options
Farmers’ Markets attract farmers and vendors who use organic growing methods giving you access to food that is free of synthetic pesticides, hormones and fertilizers. Organic farming practices support good land stewardship which ultimately means your food is grown in more nutrient dense soil and the air you breathe and the water you drink is not being contaminated with the synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Often Farmers’ Markets have a larger selection of organically grown produce compared to the selection at the local grocery chain. Many of the local farmers who aren’t certified organic are practicing the equivalent of organic growing methods but for financial or other reasons have not sought certification (yet). You can read more about organic certification here.
8. Learn About Food and the Local Economy
Shopping at our local Farmers’ Markets is a wonderful learning experience. You’ll learn about fruits and vegetables you may not have been exposed to otherwise. You are able to speak directly to the farmers about how they farm, what fruits and vegetables are in season and how the produce is handled from seed to market. Kids and adults alike enjoy discovering firsthand how foods are grown, harvested and eaten. I know for me personally shopping at our local Farmers’ Markets has been a wonderful opportunity for my son to learn where food comes from, how we can support the local economy (and why we should) and ways to shop for the best selection and price. Recently we visited a local organic farm and were able to see for ourselves how a farm operates. We enjoy talking to the farmers and my son is more enthusiastic about trying different fruits and vegetables when he selects them himself at the Farmers’ Market.
9. Be Inspired – Discover a Variety of Foods and Recipes
Vendors at Farmers’ Markets are passionate about their food and are happy to share tips about how to cook the foods they are selling. They can recommend recipes and cooking methods for ingredients you’ve never tried and often suggestions for complementary dishes. Community chefs at your local Farmers’ Market are happy to share recipes for in-season foods.
10. Connect with Your Community
Farmers’ Markets are festive and lively venues. One of my favorite things to do is visit our local Farmers’ Market. For someone who does not like to shop that says a lot! It is so relaxing to be out in the open air strolling through aisles of fresh fruits and veggies. It’s fun to bring the entire family, bump into friends, meet local farmers and enjoy the local vibe in the middle of our diverse city. Many Farmers’ Markets have local musicians performing and hot food vendors. It’s fun to sit down with a bite to eat and enjoy the music. Local groups and organizations will often set up booths at farmers’ markets when there is a special event coming to town or a hot issue – we’ve discovered many wonderful people, places and events just by hanging out at our local farmers’ markets.
What about you? Why do you shop at the Farmers’ Market? What is your favorite market? Tell us in the Comments.
Be sure to check out “10 Things to Remember When Shopping at Farmers’ Markets” and “What’s in Season?“.