10 Reasons Why You Need to Shop at a Farmer's Market
By: Rebecca Whiting
As we are getting ready for the coming Spring, I decided maybe (just maybe) I should try to compile a list of all the wonderful reasons why people should shop at their local farmer’s market(s) just in case anyone needed any convincing and were not already doing so.
Not that YOU needed any convincing, am I right? This is for all those OTHER people.
Without further adieu…
1. Fresh is best. If you are looking for the best produce with the most flavor, then you really want the stuff that was picked literally that morning. You know, the stuff you don’t need to sit on the window sill to ripen. …The strawberries that are just begging to be popped in your mouth before you even make it home. …The kind of ingredients for your dinner that makes your family say “Wow, this is amazing, can I have some more?” …Because you want to be a hero in the kitchen. And who doesn’t want to be a hero in the kitchen?!
2. Supporting local farms and farmers helps your community and your local economy. When you go to the farmer’s markets, you are not only meeting your farmer face to face, but you are also helping them by boosting their profits. When farmers can sell their products directly to you, they are not selling at a discounted wholesale price, which means they get more of the profits. When we live in a day and age where a lot of small farms are really struggling to stay afloat and will simply never be able to compete directly with big commercial farms, buying directly from a local farmer helps them more than you can possibly imagine. A small farm is nothing without it’s loyal customer base.
3. A farmer’s market can save you money. If the farmer is saving money by not having to take a cut when selling wholesale, that bigger profit margin is ultimately going to benefit you as well. And it has been my personal experience with local markets, that farmers do not forget their loyal customers which usually comes in the form or an extra apple here or a few bucks off of a bag of potatoes there. There are a lot of generous farmers out there who are doing what they do, not to get rich, but to be a large scale provider because they love being a farmer.
4. You can go organic and feel good about it. Now, not ALL local farms will grow things in an organic or natural way, so it is very important in this regard to ask questions when you go to a farmer’s market. Farms that do choose natural methods for growing their products will LOVE to answer any questions you have about their peas and carrots. Farmers take a lot of pride in what they have to offer, so ask those questions to make sure you are getting fruits and vegetables grown in a way that you can support. Plus, you know by getting organic or naturally grown produce, that you are not adding a dash of pesticides to your meals. Because… ew. Just ew. Plus, buying from a pesticide free farm helps you contribute to good land stewardship.
5. Get involved! Going to your farmers market makes you an active participant in your community. Whether people consider this or not, how they spend their time and money directly impacts their local economy and their community. A little involvement (and maybe just by showing up!) tells people where you stand, and your opinions matter very much!. Small farms are paying attention, and this will be reflected in the local market. You make a difference! Plus, it’s kind of fun… So, there is that.
6. Your farmers market is good for the environment. Now, while I do not have the official statistics on me at this moment, I think it is fairly safe to say that when you get your produce locally, it eliminates the need to ship produce from places like Mexico that would use up a lot of fuel and packaging just to get the produce here. Especially when you live in northern Minnesota!
7. You can eat healthier! Seeing all the wonderful produce on display can help encourage people to eat more of it and maybe some things that you never considered before. Eating food that has been freshly picked also means that it has more nutrients and a higher vitamin level.
8. Find new ideas for meals. We all get in the cooking rut. We’ve had the same things over and over again until eating is no longer exciting. Finding something new to eat at the market, or just talking to your farmer, can help you with that. Ask them their favorite way to prepare a squash, I bet they can tell you!
9. The market has a lot of teachable moments. Kids can directly benefit from the farmer’s markets so that they can see early on that food does not come from the grocery store, that in does IN FACT, come from a FARM! It’s exciting to see a child learning, so maybe even while you are there, ask the farmer about farm visits. A lot of farmers love to share their lives with people who are eager to learn. Especially children, because we need the future generation to love farming as much as we do.
10. Just treat yourself. Even if you come just to stop by, there is something about a farmer’s market that is just refreshing. A lot of farmer’s markets have live music you can come to hear, fresh baked goodies, and a festive feel. Plus, a lot of markets are just full of local flare that is unique to the area. You just never know what you will find at your farmer’s market!