They’re contrived and expensive. The portions are low and the prices high. In an ironic instance of reverse snobbery, many people turn up their noses at farmers’ markets, deeming them to represent a buying experience reserved for the pretentious.
But in fact, farmers markets are a vital component of communities. They represent a future of sustainability and responsible growth. And we need them now more than ever.
Want a concrete reason to head to your local farmers market? Here’s five.
1. Experience every season
Most grocery stores give us a skewed vision of seasonal produce. If you live in Maine, for example, you won’t be getting avocados throughout the year. Peaches don’t magically grow in the thick of winter. Yet you can still find them on supermarket shelves. This means that you aren’t getting fresh, native food – you’re getting produce that has been loaded with preservatives so that it can last the journey from the far-off farm to your plate.
2. Give the environment a hand.
On the same note, It costs a lot of money (and uses up a lot of fuel) to transport these goods from their natural growing places to supermarkets all over the world. The result? A massive carbon footprint and food that is far from fresh. The average grocery store fruit or vegetable travels 1,500 miles to get to your plate. When you head to a farmers market, you’re getting product that travels around 30 miles to get to your plate. And that’s a number that you can feel a lot better about.
3. The gift of knowledge.
There’s a certain anonymity that comes with most grocery store produce. We have no idea where it came from or how it was harvested. We don’t know whether the workers have safe working conditions and receive fair compensation. We don’t know what chemicals are pumped into its delicious facade. We usually don’t even know what state it came from – much less which farm. At a farmers market, you get to chat with the growers and understand where and how your food came to be. This doesn’t just make you appreciate what you eat more – it’s also safer.
4. Enjoy the experience.
Grocery shopping is a chore. But farmers markets are more of an experience. It’s a great way to connect with members of the community – be it friends, growers, farmers, or other vendors. Moreover, it’s more fun. You can sample outlandish fruits and vegetables and learn more about your community simultaneously.
5. Help the local economy.
According to Readers Digest, when you spend $100 at a farmers market, $99 remains in the state’s economy. $62 goes directly to the local economy. By comparison, if you shop at a grocery store, a mere $25 stays in-state. Moreover, the survival of local farms hinges largely on your business. When you choose to shop at a farmers market, you’re enjoying tasty food that you can feel good about.
Do you shop at your local farmers market? Any insights you’d like to share with us?
Image Source: [Flickr: ghbrett/Jamieson Weiser / Foshydog