Farmers’ markets have risen to prominence in recent years.
Although they have been around for decades, the ‘buy local’ and ‘go green’ movements have increased the markets’ popularity, as have public attitudes about the humane treatment of animals tasked with food production. As consumers look for food sources that are affordable, nutritious, and kind to the environment, they are likely to be found having a conversation with a farmer about the foods they are preparing to purchase and eat. Certainly this face-to-face interaction offers more value than picking through produce of unknown origin at the supermarket.
A significant way to reduce one’s carbon footprint, shopping at farmers’ markets offers far more than just the chance to share direct customer feedback. Goods that hail from local sources help cut down the number of miles a product has to travel, which reduces pollution and fuel use.
The farmers markets’ dual focus on convenience and health mean that foods are more likely to be organic or pesticide-free.
Buying from farmers eliminates the middleman, which reduces the cost of foods offered for sale. Best of all, consumers who tend to be overwhelmed by big box superstores can enjoy the freedom and smaller size of an open-air market.
The oft-limited hours of a farmers’ market can help drive demand for fresh, locally-grown food, which helps keep farmers in business in the middle of a mass-produced and pre-packaged world.
This is especially important for those growers who cannot produce the quantity of food required to sell in a supermarket. A farmer’s presence at a local market will help him/her reach a desired audience – that is, persons who are interested in better food options, a one-on-one approach (remember that chance to talk with a grower under her canopy), and high-quality products. The availability of handmade goods can draw in more visitors who are looking for natural ingredients in more than just their food.
Knowing the growers of a food makes visiting the farmers’ market a viable and preferred shopping option, especially as their popularity and goods available for sale continue to increase. The availability of farmers’ markets throughout a city can help farmers compete with supermarkets. Consider visiting the same source every Tuesday to purchase fresh produce instead of hoping that a superstore will have a decent selection of tomatoes on hand on a given day, especially at affordable prices. Those who support a farmers’ market can also increase their knowledge about the food they are about to consume. In some cases, they might even be offered the chance to visit the farm from which the food and goods hail, whether the product in question is honey, wine, fowl, ornamental plants, fruit, vegetables, desserts, or candles.
Frequenters of farmers’ markets might also be offered recipes that include foods they are about to purchase. This option is more reputable than just picking up a recipe card at the supermarket because the farmer is likely to have tried the dish they are recommending. They are also likely to have the necessary ingredients on hand or have a partnership with another grower. Where one local seller might specialize in poultry, another might sell marinades that will bring out the meat’s flavor.
Supporting a farmers’ market helps boost a city’s economic growth and will ensure that hardworking farmers have a better chance at staying in business. The availability of less-processed foods will lead to better consumer health, something that can’t necessarily be found in a pre-packaged item. Shopping locally is a great way to build a relationship with a grower, get cooking ideas, and lead to repeat business, all of which benefit both consumer and farmer and help push farmers’ markets into the mainstream.
photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/nataliemaynor/2539111053/