In the wake of salmonella in spinach and other health issues, a general concern is growing over industrialized food production. This concern strengthens a general desire to help local farmers and support rural regeneration while obtaining high quality, healthy food. For this reason farmers’ markets are back in style.
Apart from the nostalgia a farmers’ market may engender, and the good food they provide, why is it important to support our local farmers’ markets?
The obvious reason local markets are popular is because the food they sell is simply better and fresher. Farmers are able to harvest their produce at the peak of flavor and deliver it to consumers directly. No shipping, chemical processing, and no sitting in storage somewhere. This food is as real as it gets — fresh from the fields. As my wife says, “One step away from the earth is best.”
Educate Yourself and Your Kids about Agriculture
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. Taking time to talk to the farmers who come to the market is an excellent way to learn more about how our food is produced. Also, local markets sell food that is in season — meaning it reflects authentic flavors and helps demonstrate the cycles of nature behind food production. Enjoying produce at the height of its seasonal production and anticipating the next seasonal crop helps us connect with the rhythms of the earth. What a great way for our children to learn about the changing seasons and how they influence holidays such as Thanksgiving.
Nurture an Educated Palette
At a local market you will find an amazing array of produce that you might not see in the run of the mill grocery store. Red carrots, watermelon radishes, quail eggs, purple cauliflower, and tomatoes of all colors are just a sampling of the culinary diversity awaiting you. Raw milk and fresh eggs are other options often provided at your local farmers’ market, choices many families are turning to in response to allergies and other food concerns.
Be Green and Save Some Green
The prices you pay at a local market reflect the fact that you are bypassing the middle man. You are also avoiding the wasteful distribution chain used to deliver produce to consumers and unnecessary packaging. The less distance food has to travel to get to you the better it is for the environment. Did you know that food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate? All those miles use up fossil fuels, and extra packaging fills up shrinking landfills. Conventional agriculture more often than not pollutes water, land, and air with toxic byproducts. Buying at your local market helps save the planet.
Get Out and Mingle
Perhaps the best reason of all for frequenting your local farmers’ market is so that you can enjoy the great outdoors and rub elbows with your neighbors. Instead of pushing a metal cart around a freezing grocery store, wouldn’t you rather stroll among outdoor stalls full of fresh aromatic produce? Besides, it’s a great place to meet with friends, bring the kids, and just get a taste of small town life in the midst of suburbia.
There are so many excellent reasons to support local farmers’ markets. Find one in your area and discover the benefits of eating locally.