Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Farmers markets support a sustainable food system by offering locally-grown produce.

Shopping at a farmer’s market allows you to buy local fruits and vegetables. Vendors pride themselves in offering products that are grown naturally or organically; beef  that has been pasture-raised, handmade cheeses, fresh eggs etc. In addition, a visit to the market can be a family event.  Some markets feature live entertainment as well as non-food products like fresh flowers or handmade quilts, toys, clothing, woodwork, and potted plants.
Not too long ago, these markets were a way of life. As the big supermarket chains gained popularity, open markets were less frequently visited. The convenience of shopping in an indoor, climate-controlled environment (often open 24-7) gave a break to our busy lives. Unfortunately, we also lost a lot of that human interaction that you would often find at the farmer’s market. The opportunity to get to know your producers, learn about what is being grown in their fields and how they are growing it can be extremely valuable.  Developing a relationship with the producer can allow you to obtain the freshest items, can offer you the chance to barter for some things and will often keep you updated on when your favorite seller will be participating.  Many people like to visit the markets to purchase what is in season and to try fruits and vegetables that might not necessarily make it to the grocery store because they may be a bit unusual and of very low demand.

What is another indirect advantage to shopping the market?   The products we purchase do not have to travel hundreds or thousands of miles just to get to our tables – adding to the global warming problems.  Buying locally is good for the environment and helps grow our local economy.    

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