Imagine a warm summer morning with a gentle breeze and sun just peeking through the clouds of a blue sky. It's early, but in this small corner of the universe, people are out and about enjoying the sights, sounds, and tastes at the local Farmer's Market. It's the atmosphere of the market that's drawn most people here on this morning, with it's vibrancy of color, fresh food, a little music, delicious smells, and an opportunity for socialization. It's a happy place to be on this morning!
I love Farmer's Markets! As a food enthusiast, dietitian, and conservationist, they're one of my favorite places to find fresh produce, especially during the summer months. Here's what I like most about them!
1) Buying local supports local farmers - this ensures future viability of food production in your local area, which leads to my second point below......
2) Food travels less time - You may say, "why does it matter how long my food travels to get to me?". But, transit time really does matter. The longer food travels, particularly fresh foods, the more nutritional value is lost over time. Also, fresh foods brought to the Farmer's Market are harvested in a perfectly ripe state, unlike grocery store foods which are often harvested early to prevent spoilage during transit. Finally, from a conservationist's stance, there is minimal fuel cost to get the food to you at the local Farmer's Market vs. higher fuel costs of transcontinental transit.
3) Organic produce - Many foods sold at Farmer's Markets are organically produced. So, be sure to ask the farmer how the food was grown if you're looking for organic. Also, even though some food may not be certified organic, it may have been produced without use of harmful pesticides or herbicides. Just ask the farmer before you buy.
4) Eat seasonally - Our ancestors knew no other way to eat than to eat seasonally. They cultivated basic crops which could thrive and survive during each season of the year. This continues to be a more economically sound practice today, and there's something to be said for the nutritional value, taste, and quality of seasonally grown food!
5) Learn about gardening - Farmer's Markets allow us to get in touch with who's growing the food we eat! Also, we can learn more about regional soil and weather differences which can affect crop growth, so we can be successful in our own home gardening.
6) It's healthy! - Farmer's Markets are an opportunity to get inspired to eat fresh and try new healthy recipes!
Go out and find a local Farmer's Market in your area to visit this week!