Have you explored your local farmers market? Shopping and eating seasonally from a local farmers market tastes better, has higher nutritional values, promotes healthy eating habits, reduces environmental damage from shipping foods, and can even save you money.
When you shop at your neighborhood grocery store, you may not realize that most of the produce comes from thousands of miles away and is picked before it ripens. Often, the fruits and vegetables are not in season, even though the store is selling them. So you might see peaches, a summer fruit, in October and butternut squash, a fall vegetable, in June!
Here are our top 10 reasons for shopping at your local farmers market.
Shopping at a farmers market that only features in-season produce means the produce is freshest and tastes its best. These fruits and vegetables ripen in the field and are brought directly to you. There is no tampering with the fruit and no sitting in storage on shelves for long periods of time. There is a very good chance that the apple you’re buying was picked by a farmer a few days ago!
Fresh produce is rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients and is as pure as your shopping experience can be. A lot of the produce found in grocery stores is highly processed. The fresh produce you do find in the supermarket is often grown using harmful chemicals and tactics including antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and genetic modification. In many cases it has been waxed, or gassed in transit. This is not the case at the farmers market. Many farmers spend a lot of time nourishing their soil and giving their crops nutrients and you benefit from their hard work!
3. Saving Money
Seasonal eating habits are less expensive. The products you are buying are readily available and are grown close by, which limits shipping costs. Also because there is no middle-man, like a supermarket, you are getting the best possible price.
4. Protecting the Environment and Animals
Food in the US travels an average of 1500 miles to get to your plate. Buying locally reduces environmental damage including pollution of our air, water and land and trash from extra packaging. At the farmers market you can find food from animals that did not live in cramped and unnatural living conditions. You can buy, cheese, eggs and meat from animals that were raised without hormones or antibiotics and have been fed natural diets. No chemicals in the animals means no chemicals on your plate or in your body.
5. Learn Cooking Tips and Recipes
The fruits and vegetables you buy are like a farmer’s children. They planted them as seedlings and sent them off into the world when they were ready. That said, no one will know more about the product than them. From how to pick the sweetest oranges and ways to cook kale to new pie fillings and tasty brussels sprouts dishes, if you have questions, they have answers!
6. Try Something New
Many farmers have lesser known fruits and vegetables that are both tasty and nutritious. They also have different varieties on your current favorites. Did you know there were 7500 types of tomatoes?! Farmers can also show you how to pick the best quality, store and prepare your new find!
7. Get Your Children Involved
Bringing your kids to the farmers market gets them involved in the shopping process and creates a genuine interest in healthy foods. Fruits and vegetables are much more fun to eat when kids get to pick them out themselves. They can also talk to a farmer about their favorite foods and help you cook them at home.
8. Peace of Mind
Eating is much more relaxing when you know where your food is coming from. If you ever have any questions, you can just ask the farmer! Also farmers markets have great shopping environments. No one is going to scold you for spending too much time comparing two seemingly identical tomatoes.
9. Easy Access and Variety of Payments
10. Sense of Community
Shopping locally creates a sense of community among farmers and buyers. The money you spend stays close to your community and you’re helping your neighbors earn a living and provide you with delicious and nutritious food. It makes grocery shopping a fun outing instead of something dreadful that needs to be crossed off your to-do list. Just strolling around and taking in the sights, smells and tastes is a reward in itself. Plus if you make friends with a farmer, the next time they have your favorite type of tomato, maybe they’ll put them to the side just for you!