Updated: Mar 26
Written by Jonna Castanos
When it comes to fresh, locally grown produce, the best of the best is only going to be found at your local farmer’s market. But why support them? The products grown by smaller scale farming operations seem to have endless benefits – specifically environmental, economic, and health, both physical and mental.
Farmer’s markets support environmental sustainability. Food in the U.S. will travel on average 1,500 miles before ending up on the shelf at a box chain grocery store. This extra transportation means using larger amounts of natural resources, contributing to the issue of pollution. At your local farmer’s market, food has traveled on average only 50 miles and was most likely picked the day before ensuring freshness. Many of the farmers that sell their products at farmer’s markets use certified organic practices that help keep our water and soil clean of excessive pesticides and chemicals. Through these practices, they are actively being responsible stewards of the land. However, farmers using these organic practices may face certain economic challenges. For example, they may be unable to compete with the massive volume and low market prices offered by larger, more industrial operations. The answer to this issue? Farmer’s markets – they open the door for smaller, environmentally responsible, operations to enter their products into the market.
According to the Farmer’s Market Coalition, growers selling locally create 13 full-time jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those not selling local create 3. If we have the opportunity to keep money in our local economy, I think we should. Supporting farmer’s markets means directly supporting our local farmers who in turn invest that money back into our community as these are the people more likely to patronize our hometown feed stores, farm equipment dealers, and other local businesses.
Food plays an important role in our health, both physically and mentally. Most options from the grocery store are highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. It’s traveled hundreds of miles and across state lines, being gassed in transportation. While not everything at the farmer’s market is certified organic, it’s still safer to eat and more nutritious. The food we purchase at the grocery store is a far cry from what is grown naturally. The naturally grown fruits and vegetables found in farmer’s markets are more vibrant and contain more nutrients and antioxidants. Supporting farmer’s markets means supporting your local, in-season produce. You won’t be purchasing something artificially grown or genetically modified. The art of preparing food, like other creative activities, can increase a person’s confidence and happiness. Another important benefit farmers bring to the table when direct-marketing their products is the opportunity for education and conversation. Farmer’s markets are the place where people can meet and discuss cooking, nutrition, and agriculture and builds relationships between communities, farmers, and food.
Find your local farmer's market here: https://cofarmersmarkets.org/find-a-market/