A Win-Win Way To Shop
Farmers markets are a thriving addition to local economies all across the world. From the romantic storied market streets of France, to the vibrant outdoor atmospheres of such popular venues as the Los Angeles Farmers Market, farmers markets provide multiple benefits beyond the obvious.
Not only are farmers markets a fun way to shop and socialize, they also provide access to exceptionally fresh food items, stimulate and sustain the local economy, offer a diverse variety of choices unavailable in larger stores, and provide the opportunity to shop outside and enjoy the interaction of your community.
Farmers Markets Mean Fresh
Farmers markets most often feature vendors and local farmers who grow food locally. This makes it possible for local produce to arrive for sale with far less shipping and handling than the fruits and vegetables available in your local supermarket. The major benefit of less shipping and shorter travel for your produce is that the fruits and veggies you buy at a local weekend market are more fresh than grocery goods. In fact, I was amazed at how long a bag of organic spring mix lettuce that I purchased at the farmers market lasted. When bought at the grocery store, the same lettuce may last up to four days or so, but the local market organic spring mix lettuce lasted twice as long for me. In addition to freshness for the consumer, more localized food production means more sustainable agriculture, since the impact of agricultural transportation is lessened, and the environmental toll of excess fuel and transportation is reduced. This also translates into less labor and fewer hands touching these goods, which equals less expensive food for the consumer.
Your local weekend community market, therefore, provides very fresh, longer lasting, less-traveled, lower environmental impact, lower cost food for local consumers. But the benefits don't stop there.
Farmers Markets Boost The Local Economy
In addition to freshness and less environmental impact, local weekend markets also do their part to stimulate the local economy. When we spend our money in a community market, the money goes to local farmers and vendors. That money, in turn, has more of a chance of being spent in other local businesses. This type of localized commerce is efficient and healthful for the same reasons that local fruit is better: because when there are fewer middle-men in the process, the end consumer benefits. In the case of dollars, fewer hands exchanging that money means less taxes accrued upon the currency. Less taxation on a given dollar, means more of that dollar is available to spend on actual value.
In short, spending dollars locally is a more efficient way to purchase goods. Your money goes further because what you are buying often costs less, and the money you spend is more likely to benefit others in the community, and will also do so with less taxation and, therefore, more robust purchasing power.
Local plants are often better acclimated to your area.
Farmers Markets Provide More Variety
It is a physical fact that some produce simply does not ship well (ripe produce even more so). For this reason many varieties of fruits in the grocery store are either picked green to survive the shipping process, or unavailable at all. Some examples of fragile-when-ripe fruit include kiwi, starfruit, raspberries, tomatoes, and avocados. In tropical areas, lychees, longans, ladyfinger bananas, and canistel may be available at a local farmers market, yet never find their way to a grocery store produce shelf. A trip to your local community market may surprise you with unique varieties of fruit or veggies you have never even seen for sale.
In addition to a wider variety, the benefits of tree-ripened fruit (or at least fruit or vegetables picked when they are closer to being ripe) is apparent the moment you taste them. The first time I tasted a tree-ripened avocado I could nearly taste the sunshine and the rain. I was blown away. So not only is that level of freshness a bonus, but the sheer variety of items that are unavailable at grocery stores, but delivered fresh to the community growers market, are often worth the trip.
Shop Outside And Socialize
One of my favorite things about shopping in a local weekend market is the chance it gives you to shop outside. Being outdoors in almost any activity is fun for me, but the chance to be outside and buy some of my weekly groceries is an outstanding combination. Being outside feels healthful and therefore it encourages more healthful food choices when buying food. I love to see bottles of honey sparkle in the sunshine, or the vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables alongside bright flowers and colorful living plants for sale.
The general atmosphere of the market is a social one as well. People milling around are easy to connect with. The farmers and vendors are always ready to chat about their goods, and everyone is, generally, in a pleasant mood. If nothing else, the environment of a local outdoor market just feels different than a grocery store, and that alone can change people's moods for the better. Shopping at a community market is a social, interactive experience that adds immeasurably to the process of buying things.
Overall, the farmers market is a valuable shopping option that brings diverse healthful food choices to local economies all across the nation and the world. Farmers markets are a fun way to shop outside and socialize with the locals. They also provide access to exceptionally fresh food items, stimulate and sustain the local economy, promote more sustainable agriculture, offer a diverse variety of choices unavailable in larger stores, and can be a fun and productive healthful outing for the entire family.
Look for the closest farmers market in your area in local newspapers or by searching online and check out what delicious treats your neighborhood growers and vendors have to offer.
Tents on the weekend could mean a farmers market is underway.