It’s the weekend, you want to get out, but you need to run errands. Why not hit up a local farmer’s market? Kill two birds with one stone. And that’s not the only excuse to visit one of these local gems.
Farmer’s markets are a public and recurring assembly of farmers or their representatives selling the food they produce directly to consumers. Farmer’s markets vary in size and always reflect a region’s agriculture and seasons. Some markets are seasonal because produce can only grow during certain parts of the year. In contrast, others involve hundreds of vendors and take place year-round. Some of these markets often also feature artists, local businesses, and small family events.
So, what are the benefits of attending such an event?
Tasty and Fresh Food
It may seem obvious, but you get to shop for fresh and better-tasting foods when you go to a farmer's market. From greens to fruits to meats, the options are often delicious. Produce you find at the grocery store is usually several days old before you can buy it. At farmer’s markets, the stand’s owner usually picked what you’re buying just that morning and when it is at peak ripeness! Now that’ll taste amazing. Whether you’re in Colorado buying some delicious Olathe Sweet Corn or sweet Palisade Peaches, in New Mexico getting some fresh spicy Hatch Green Chili, in Texas buying juicy cantaloupe, or elsewhere indulging in other local delicacies, you’ll know exactly where it’s come from and how it got to you.
When you shop at a farmer’s market, most of the food is tastier and better for you, containing fewer chemicals and intervention than mass-produced foods. The foods are often more nutritious as well; vivid colors in fruits and vegetables reflect the nutrients they contain, and we’re guessing you’ll encounter a whole rainbow of produce at the market.
When you buy from farmer’s markets, you also encourage healthy eating within your community. How cool?
Help Preserve America’s Rural Livelihoods and Family-Owned Farms
According to the Farmer’s Market Coalition, “farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for beginning farmers, allowing them to start small, test the market, and grow their businesses.”
Smaller farms often have a hard time competing with massive industrial farms that produce mass amounts of food. Giant corporations run industrial farms, driving local family farms out of business. To be more efficient, these corporate farms do monoculture farming, in which a single huge field grows only one type of produce. This can drain the soil of nutrients, leaving it barren and hard to use. Corporate farms also use mass pesticides and other unhealthy practices. When you buy from local, smaller farmers, they benefit from your business and can practice healthier growing techniques.
This also means that you are supporting sustainability. Three out of every four farmers selling at farmer’s markets say they use practices consistent with organic standards. You’re helping the environment, promoting better practices, and using your dollars to push for change.
Stimulate Your Local Economy
One recent study discovered that “for every dollar of sales, small farming operations are generating twice as much economic activity within the region, as compared to producers who are not involved in things like farmers markets.” The study reveals that for every $1 million in revenue, direct-market farms create almost 32 local jobs, whereas larger wholesale growers create only 10.5.
When you buy from a farmer’s market, those farmers give back to the community in turn. Same with any artisans or local businesses selling at the market. They create jobs, buy from each other, and often source their supplies for growing locally too. The money may even wind up back in YOUR pocket!
Get Affordable Food
The value of food at farmer’s markets is incredible. Not only are you getting something fresh and better for you, but it’s usually at a great price! Some farmer’s markets even take SNAP benefits or have pay-what-you-can programs. The benefits to your health are even likely to save you money on healthcare expenses over the long term.
Get some Social Activity
The farmer’s market is a place of gathering. Often, they feature family-friendly activities, happy to educate vendors, classes, entertainment, and friendly faces. What better place to spend a couple of hours? You may even make some friends or tire out the kiddos!
We hope you hit up a farmer’s market this summer! Here are some websites to find one near you!
Local Harvest: A search engine for finding events near you.
US Department of Agriculture: Local Food directory search engine.
Farmstand: App for Android users to find local producers.
Farmzie: App for Apple users to find local stands and producers.