Whether you are shopping for fresh produce, eggs, or baked goods, your local farmers market is the place to go. Every outing can be an adventure as you discover new varieties and experience new flavours. You are also likely to find an assortment of flowers, jams, crafts, and honey-based products. If you need more incentives, consider these reasons for taking advantage of the local farmers market:


1. Market food tastes great and is good for you. Whereas supermarket produce may take a week or more before hitting the local shelves, produce from the farmers market has likely been picked within the past day or two. It is still fresh, full of flavour, and has not lost any of its nutritional value. Plus, it has not been subjected to the pesticides and processing that occurs to many commercial foods. If you are seeking quality organic options, there is no better place to go.


2. Shopping at the market boosts the local economy. Rather going to a distant manufacturing giant, what you spend goes directly back into the community, thus helping keep the town vibrant.


3. Local farmers can keep on farming. With the constant threat of large factory-style farms, local farmers depend on the income gained through the market to keep going. Supporting these farmers maintains a connection to our heritage, preserves the landscape, and ensures a future for smaller farms.


4. Buying local is good for the environment. Farmlands are vital for controlling carbon emissions, combating climate change, and preserving wildlife habitats. Plus, the more food that is purchased locally, the less food has to be transported thousands of miles—often internationally—and the fewer chemicals and pesticides are used by large-scale producers.


5. You meet the people who grow your food. You have the opportunity to develop a relationship with the growers, ask questions about their farming practices, and verify the ingredients. If you are concerned about the humane treatment of animals, the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and sustainable farming, farmers markets allow you to get the answers you seek.


6. Markets offer more variety. Large producers focus on strains of fruit and vegetables that last longer, are protected by tougher skins, and ripen at uniform times. Often, these strains have been genetically engineered. Local farmers offer greater genetic diversity in tomatoes, lettuce, wheat, and other products, usually without resorting to genetic modifications.


7. Markets express the heartbeat of the town. Experiencing the assortment of people and the interactions that occur at the farmers market can be exhilarating. Whether you go alone or as a family, a weekly trip to the market can become a treasured tradition.


Make shopping at the farmers market an integral part of your shopping routine. The freshness and quality of food you will discover there simply cannot be matched. Check with your local market for its hours of operation.