For the Love of Farmers MarketsHeather Neal
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I spend all week making my rounds at all the various grocery stores before I’m happy with my hull. Meat at one store, produce at another, and gluten-free snacks at yet another. Of all things, produce seems the hardest because so often it seems old and drab. But now that spring is here, the local farmers markets have been bringing in all kinds of bounty.
There’s something so intrinsically satisfying about shopping at a farmers market, whether it’s the seemingly lost art of making purchases with cash, chatting with the farmers about how their crops are grown, or sampling a juicy slice of peach as you walk by a table abundant with fresh fruits and veggies.
Maybe it’s the aroma of the kettle corn popping in the field next to the farmers’ tents, or the rustic wooden sign announcing the fresh-squeezed lemonade that makes you feel like you’ve stepped onto a fairground, and not into something as mundane as a grocery store.
Besides the experience, here are some benefits of shopping at a farmers market:
1. Fresh produce
Fruits and vegetables lose flavor and nutrients the moment they’re plucked from the ground or picked off a branch. It could take weeks for an apple picked in Washington to make it to the East Coast. Imagine if you bit into that crisp, sweet apple just hours after it came off the tree. Plus, there’s no off-putting wax coating on the outside (a sad attempt to hold in the flavor).
2. Local agriculture
Buying locally not only gives you the freshest ingredients, it cuts down on cost and lessens the impact on the environment. Shorter transportation distances translate to lower fuel costs and less packaging. Keeping money in your local community helps keep your town economy thriving.
3. It’s cheap
When a farmer doesn’t have to pay to transport and distribute his goods, he can sell his produce at a lower cost and still put a profit in his pocket.
Farmers bring whatever’s fresh and growing well at any given time, which means you could find just about anything day-to-day.
Do you shop at farmers markets or local farms?