When was the last time you visited your local farmers’ market? If you’ve never been, you might be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll find! Buying your produce from a farmers’ market is not only a great way to eat healthier, but it can be an adventure for the whole family. More so, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is shifting to a plant-based diet centered on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, making buying fresh and affordable produce from a farmers’ market a smart thing to do.
I recently visited a farmers’ market in my hometown of Frisco, Texas and they offered much more than fresh food. My daughter enjoyed educational programs, live music, face painting and more. It was a place to connect with the community, which is great for personal well-being. I also learned about upcoming events in the area. But the best part was that I brought home some fresh, just-picked fruits and vegetables.
The next time you’re heading out to a supermarket or big-box store to buy your groceries, think about why shopping at your local farmers’ market is a better idea.
- Farm Fresh. The produce was likely picked that same morning compared to what you’ll find at a grocery store which is usually days old and has been packed in refrigerated trucks.
- Affordable. For the sheer nutrition you get from farmers’ market produce compared to supermarket produce, it’s a really good value. Grocery stores tend to charge an arm and a leg for organic fruits and vegetables. At the farmer’s market, however, they are typically not much more expensive than conventionally grown produce, and the benefits to your health are likely to save you money on healthcare expenses over the long-term.
- Organic. Many farmers participating in local farmer’s markets use organic methods to grow their produce. Organic farming is better for the soil, the environment, and your body.
- Product knowledge. Chat with the farmers and learn how their produce was grown. They may even offer recipes and ways to prepare the food.
- Ripe and tasty. If you’re willing, buy a peach from the grocery store and one from a farmers’ market. Taste both and see which one you like better. The farmers’ market peach was picked at the peak of ripeness and is incredibly fresh when it gets to you.
- Supports local family farms. There’s no doubt local family farms have decreased in numbers over the years, succumbing to the high cost of running a farm and increasingly stiff competition from giant conglomerate-run farms that produce massive amounts of extremely cheap produce. Purchasing fruits and vegetables from farmers’ markets, however, supports local family farms, giving them the valuable capital they need to keep operating and providing consumers an alternative to mass-produced foods.
- Conserves fuel. Many supermarkets receive their produce from hundreds or thousands of miles away. This involves the use of fossil fuels for shipping on refrigerated trucks and trains. Famers’ market produce doesn’t have far to get from the farm to your table, significantly reducing the use of fossil fuels. They also often operate in the open air and thus do not require electricity or heating.
- Better for the environment. Along with conserving fossil fuels, small family farms produce less environmental waste in the form of carbon monoxide, pesticide use, and chemical fertilizers.
Find a farmers’ market near you by clicking this link to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.
Jennifer Evans is passionate about the written word. She enjoys teaching piano and grammar. She caught the travel bug while attending high school in The Netherlands many years ago. You can usually find Jennifer reading a novel or riding her bike.