Farmers’ markets used to be a nice place to stop by on a Saturday morning to buy a few fresh flowers and maybe some homemade sweets. As these markets have grown in popularity, they have expanded exponentially. No longer confined to one day a week, a few products, or even a single season, farmers markets are a great way to eat local throughout the year. Does eating local food matter? We have three reasons that we think it does.
#1. Eating Seasonal Food
In the grocery store, you can get most foods year round, but that isn’t the case at the farmers’ market. Local food is produced seasonally and allowed to ripen on the vine for fruits and vegetables that are bursting with freshness and flavor. Eating seasonally allows us to experience Mother Nature’s wide variety of foods when they taste the best: tender greens in the late winter, strawberries in the spring, tomatoes in the late summer and enough fall apples to last us through the winter.
#2. Getting to Know Your Local Farmer
Farmers love to talk about their product. They have devoted their lives to producing food and they are more than happy to answer any questions you have about their practices. The farmer may not be certified organic, but through conversation you can easily determine if they follow organic practices allowing you to avoid artificial pesticides. Eating local food and supporting these farmers and their families puts money back into your local economy. You can rest easy knowing that your food dollars are supporting a local family who pays the salary of other local folks.
#3. Try New-To-You Foods
By eating locally, you might even be inspired to try some new foods. When your farmer’s market or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box offers new goodies such as Jerusalem artichokes, garlic ramps, or purple potatoes, new dinner recipes are only a quick Internet search away. Local farmers are more likely to cultivate unusual fruits and vegetables than commercial farmers who supply groceries. The grocery store supply chain rewards uniformity. As a result, we are missing out on beautiful heirloom varieties of vegetables that truly showcase the beauty of nature.
If you can’t find a local market, try the USDA Farmers’ Market directory to find a farmers’ market near you. Don’t have time to peruse the marketplace each week? Some farmers engage in Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA’s, which offer all the benefits of local food with a quick weekly pickup at a central location or delivery to your doorstep.