7 Reasons to Fall in Love with Farmers Markets (if You Haven’t Already)
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
I love finding inspiration in my local community, and one of the places that really sparks joy for me is my local farmers market. Words will never do justice how much I love shopping at the many farmers markets in my city. The abundance of the market is intoxicating, and always gives me that high-on-life feeling. Every time I walk away from the market with bags of fresh, local, organic, real food, I have a sense of joy and gratitude for the riches of food that will nourish myself and my family. Although farmers markets provide me with a lot of personal enjoyment, they do so much more for our communities than just provide food for our feasts. Farmers markets are part of the burgeoning local food movement, and help support the local economy, promote sustainable farming, and provide local communities with a bounty of healthy food options. After some reflection, I came up with this list of reasons to love supporting your local farmer!
Farmers markets stimulate the local economy.
Researchers at UC Davis concluded that for every dollar of sales, farm direct marketers (like the ones that sell at farmers markets) are generating twice as much local economic activity as compared to other producers. When money is spent at local farmers markets, that money has a greater chance of being retained in the local economy. For example, if consumers give money to a local farm by purchasing their produce, that money will likely get turned around and spent locally as well since those working at that farm live in the region where the food was produced and sold. In contrast, if consumers are purchasing food that has been trucked in from another state, and sold at a big chain supermarket whose headquarters are also in another state, much of the profit from those sales will leave the state and be distributed elsewhere.
Local food producers create more jobs.
According to the same study, for every $1 million of food produced by farm direct marketers, a total of 31.8 jobs are generated. For those not engaged in direct marketing (i.e. produce sold at places other than farmers markets and CSAs) only generate 10.5 jobs.
The local food movement promotes sustainable farming practices.
Much of the food sold at farmers markets is either certified organic or is pesticide free, which means that not as many chemical pollutants are getting into the surrounding environment. Pesticides can contaminate soil and water, and can be toxic to many living organisms including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants.
Keeping food local reduces the environmental impacts of food transportation.
When food travels long distances from its origin, natural resources are diminished and excess pollution is released into the environment. Purchasing food locally also helps to support farmers who are cultivating and preserving land that is protected from commercial development. This keeps development under control and ensures that natural spaces can thrive.
The local food movement makes healthy food available and affordable.
Farmers markets often offer competitive prices compared to supermarkets selling similar quality products. In fact often times you can find superior quality products at a farmers market for a fraction of what it would cost at a natural foods store. Farmers markets also make healthy food options the main staple of the market, unlike supermarkets whose junk food outweighs their nutritious food.
The food at farmers markets is often fresher than at the grocery store.
For many people, taste and freshness are the top reasons for buying directly from farmers. Producers often get their products to consumers the same day they are harvested, and I’m sure you can imagine how this directly influences freshness. Additionally, small farms are better able to pay more attention to detail when farming, and this contributes to a better taste.
Farmers markets sometimes offer special programs for low-income families.
Most farmers markets accept SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) and WIC vouchers, allowing certain populations access to healthy food that they may not otherwise have.
Knowing that food from local farmers markets is so accessible means that we all have the opportunity to bring fresh, nourishing food to our tables. Farmers markets support the local economy, are gentle on the environment, and provide a bountiful harvest of fresh, healthy food. We can feel good knowing that by shopping locally we’ve supported an industry that positively impacts our community while providing us with the nourishment to thrive, and that is definitely something for which we can all feel grateful.