Farmer’s Markets: They are every bit worth getting up for on a Saturday morning, heading out with a warm beverage in hand and seeing what’s on offer. Hey, it’s no secret that farmer’s markets have been on the rise of late, even to the extent of doubters throwing that sarcastic “trendy” label over them. But it’s not as if farmer’s markets are something new, some passing phase. They’ve actually been around for a long time running.
Unfortunately, caught up in the convenience “trend” that swept the nation for much of last century, mega markets have somehow become the norm, and we as a culture have become accustomed to processed foods, imported (and chemically ripened) produce, and marketing schemes. It’s a detour that has led us to major disease epidemics, moved us further away from the reality of what we eat, and taken much of the joy out of food (Speed does not equal enjoyment).
Well, as it seems the pitch has already begun, why keep stalling? We all know the farmer’s market is the way to go, so let’s expound on a few reasons why.
1. Environmentally Amazing
One of the best aspects of farmer’s markets is how much better this method of shopping is for the environment than the supermarket system. Rather than shipping food across the world, using up dwindling resources and further polluting the planet shipment by shipment, farmer’s markets tend to be local vendors selling locally grown produce and artisanal products from just down the road. Plus, the reliance on factory-farmed foods (plant and animal) will decrease.
2. Locally Empowering
The idea of buying local has hit the streets pretty hard recently, and for good reason: Not only is it better for the environment (see reason #1), but it also helps to build and strengthen small, family businesses. Farmer’s markets are a key for this. The more produce bought from local farmers, the more local farmers will be able to make a living, and thus more farmers will come around to meet the demands, creating a greater diversity of locally grown and locally available food.
3. Communally Bridging
And, where there are empowered local populations, there are generally strong communities. People know each other, recognize one another’s children, get together and help their neighbors. Farmer’s markets are a setting in which this can occur, shoppers and vendors calling one another by name and neighbors sharing in the latest on offer. They are simply another reason for communities to slow down, embrace and live as opposed to wave as we pass. We make connections, meet like-minded people and build real communities.
4. Healthfully Invigorating
By now, we all know that the processed options we find in the supermarkets are not the best choice for our health. Fresh, whole foods are the way to go and the farmer’s market is where to find them with the least amount of mass production. Shopping at the farmer’s market leads us to food at its seasonal best, and without so many temptations to impulse buy nutritionally devoid junk. The worst we might run across would be artisanal produced treats from real ingredients.
5. Financially Rewarding
While products at the farmer’s markets tend to be a little more expensive than we typically find at supermarkets (likely because they are cleaner and greener), the produce hasn’t been chopped, packaged, shipped and marketed, which makes it comparably affordable. Because seasonal fruit and veggies tend to come in bulk, harvests leave farmers with a surplus of their latest crops. This can help lower the prices and keeps the offers plentiful. Because markets sell what’s available locally, the inclination to go for expensive imports — as in the supermarket —is less of an issue.
6. Ethically Defining
With imported food, we are often blissfully unaware that those bananas, that coffee, the chocolate, the quinoa even, is coming from underpaid farmers from abroad, providing us with high-dollar products and earning peanuts for their trouble. We are less aware of the environmental impact our demand is making abroad. Many corporations, those importing, tend to work only for profit, whereas most small farmers know suppliers and value customers more than overheads. If voting with our dollars means something, then the farmer’s market means that much more.
7. Chronologically Embroiling
The food movement, whether or not any one person is part of it yet, has begun, and it’s getting bigger every year. Voices from all around—chefs, nutritionists, doctors, social workers, plain old people—are shouting out for healthier choices in schools, petitioning for appropriate labeling and protesting the government’s bowing to industry giants like Monsanto (Who’d even heard of Monsanto a decade ago?). Small, local farmer’s markets are a cornerstone to this movement, from trucking it in to the inner-city to three dozen stalls set up in a suburban parking lot. Now is most definitely a time in which we can all become involved.
8. Systematically Sticking It
Nothing feels quite so right as sticking it to the man every now and again, and farmer’s markets are a positive way of doing that. For all those nasty corporations, big business monopolies and uncaring CEOs to junk food companies we despise, we can show our disproval by using the farmer’s market instead. For all the GMOs, misused government subsidies and underhanded advertising, the farmer’s market offers something different, a true alternative to that which many are coming to disapprove of. The farmer’s market — if you want to view this way, and I kind of like to — is a wholesome finger to the establishment that has jeopardized our health, environment and future for far too long.
So what are you waiting for? Get on down to your local farmer’s market pronto; it’s time we give back to the real food industry, the one that has our best interest (and the planet’s) in mind.
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