Farmer's Markets are critical to protecting our planet. Yet so many of us are not taking advantage of this opportunity. If you are seriously thinking about reducing your waste, and helping to do your part in caring for our planet, your nearest Farmer's Market is a critical component!
My local grocery stores have just started to include countries/ states of origin in our produce section. I'm very grateful for this because it has helped me to realize the importance of eating in-season produce. Do I really need those strawberries in February that have been shipped in from California? Is that cilantro from Mexico a necessity when I can pick up a plant of my own at the Farmers Market?
Why Are Farmer's Markets so Important?
So often we think of our nearest grocery store when we need to purchase food for our family. However, (especially during harvest season) we should think of our Farmer's Markets first. Here are just a few reasons:
- The food you are purchasing was grown in your town. It will taste better, and the carbon footprint is much smaller than the tomatoes that have traveled from Chile or the cilantro from Mexico (that is unless you live in Chile or Mexico.)
- Typically you can speak to the very farmer that grew your food and learn more of their growing methods. If the produce is not organic (buying organic matters), you can ask why. I once spoke to a farmer who explained that he used organic farming practices, but in order to be a certified organic farm, he needed to let his land sit without producing for 4 years. As a small farmer, he couldn't afford to give up 4 years of farming for his family. That was all I needed to hear, and I happily shop from him often.
- There will be no GMO vegetables. Genetically modified seeds are expensive to purchase and only sold to very large farming organizations. Your typical farmers market will not be providing you with experimental veggies.
- You are putting money right back into the community in which you live. Creating a circular economy and spending more of our hard earned money in our own towns. Supporting local farmers is a great way to protect our lands. Farmers who do not spray toxic chemicals, yet raise healthy food, are worth supporting and protecting. They are not in the game to protect shareholders and cut corners at the cost of the environment. In fact, the environment, climate, their land, and water is what sustains them (and all of us too!) Farmers know this more than anyone, so let's spend our money wisely.
- Farmer's Markets are a great opportunity to learn so much about gardening, beekeeping, baking, etc. Make a list of questions regarding your hobby or something you have always been curious about, and ask them at the next Market. Interested in becoming a beekeeper? Learning how to compost? Can't figure out why your Grandma's peanut butter fudge won't set up quite right? The odds are fairly strong that someone at your local market can help guide you.
- It's great exercise and much more fun than your local grocery store! My favorite thing about shopping at the local farmer's market is the energy. Typically you can find live music, kids giggling and running around, adorable dogs out and about enjoying the day, and other eco-conscious consumers.
- It's ZERO WASTE! The options are immeasurable for purchasing zero waste at your local farmer's market. The farmers are usually very happy to keep their containers to take home and refill with the next harvest. There is significantly less plastic at your local farmer's market than any grocery store (don't forget to bring your produce bags.) At the market near me, the jam vendor offers a discount on your purchase if you bring back your jars! You don't see the big supermarket jams do that! If you need a farmer's market kit to get you started, we have you covered!
How can you help to support your local farmer's market?
Perhaps you can even become a vendor at your local market to sell your homemade jam, maybe you can invite a friend to peruse the next market with you, or even create recipe cards to share with the local farmers if you have a great recipe that uses a fruit/vegetable that is in season (Grandma's blackberry cobbler anyone????) Anything you can do to encourage the members of your community to support the local farmer's market will help us all. If marketing is your thing, send out an email letting others know what is available at the upcoming market. If you find a hot sauce that is amazing, tell your friends and family and share it via social media. When you have the best croissant of your life, go back for more next week and bring a friend. Even better, buy a bunch to take to your backyard picnic later that day.
The ethics and practices or big farming are not in the best interest of our planet, or our health. Supporting small local farmers is a critical component of benefiting our communities; and hey, we all get to eat food that tastes better anyway! It's a win for everyone!