Doing a portion of your shopping at your local Farmers Market is an easy and enjoyable way to insure that you are eating with the seasons and supporting your local economy.
The concept of a market has been around for millennia.
The first agricultural revolution allowed human beings to settle in one place and support themselves with cultivated crops and domesticated animals. It gave them the freedom to specialize in one task and then trade for whatever they still needed. Market places sprung up to facilitate that trade and still prevail in many places as the primary gathering and shopping place. Despite their many benefits, our society has moved away from patronizing markets in favor of the convenience of supermarkets. Farmers markets offer so much that your local supermarket cannot – fresher food, kinder vendors, and an overall better shopping experience.
There are plenty of reasons to love your local market!
- Live in Michigan? Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, after California (really!). Your market is full of a diverse selection of local fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy, eggs, baked goods, and more! In fact, I’m able to purchase just about all of my groceries (save some grains) at the local market.
- The produce is fresher! Generally, the items sold at a farmers market are from no further than 200 miles away and often the plants are ripened fully on the vine and picked the day before market, which means they have a richer flavor.
- I enjoy cooking and tasting new food, and the people who best know how to prepare it are right waiting to share their insights. So when you head to market, be sure to ask the vendors their favorite ways to cook what they sell. My best discovery last summer was the humble, wonderful, and truly succulent pattypan squash- absolutely delicious when stuffed with rice, cheese, and sausage then baked.
- You get to personally thank the farmer who grew your food!
- Farmers Markets are (often) open all year round, and even when it’s cold there are a variety of products available! Squash, root veggies, onions, garlic, and apples are all staples throughout the cold months.
Buying local food is good for the environment too!
In America, the average meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate. Imagine how drastically carbon emissions could be reduced if the majority of the food we purchased was produced within 100 miles of our home? Farmers markets help make that goal achievable. It is true that there are some products that simply aren’t available locally, but why purchase a tomato that was grown in Mexico when you can get one grown close to home? Shopping at the market also gives you the opportunity to have an in-person conversation with the farmer, and the chance to ask about the methods they employed to produce the goods they’re selling. So you can know whether harmful pesticides and herbicides were used in growing your food.
There’s a spark of life at the farmers market that is just absent in even the most beautiful grocery store.
We can’t recommend enough that you find a farmers market near you and make a point to check it out sometime this summer. You surely won’t be disappointed, and hopefully you’ll even find a new favorite place to shop!