by Registered Dietitian, Chelsea Rice, RDN, LDN
These days it is so easy to go into the grocery store and find almost any fruit or vegetable year round. Want strawberries or tomatoes in the dead of winter? No problem. Due to constantly having a broad variety of produce at our fingertips, many individuals are unfamiliar with the advantages of shopping at local farmers markets and seasonal eating. Farmers markets are a fun way to learn about your food and where it comes from, but if you are not used to purchasing your food at a farmers market it can be stressful and confusing to know what to buy and when. Continue reading below to learn about 5 reasons to buy your fruits and veggies at your local farmers market.
1. You are supporting local farmers and the environment.
Buying from a local farmer allows you to support local agriculture, which means that the food you are eating comes from nearby. By cutting out the middlemen and large corporations, you help farmers retain a higher percentage of their earnings, and therefore contribute directly to the well-being of local farmers and their families. The money you spend at farmers markets stays within the community, supporting small businesses, and fostering a sense of connection between producers and consumers. Also, local produce does not require a lot of pollution, extra packaging, and energy waste used to ship food around the world. Food in the US travels an average 1,500 miles to get to your plate. Food at the farmers market usually travels shorter distances and is grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.
2. You are eating seasonally.
There is nothing like biting into a sweet and flavorful strawberry, fresh from the berry patch. In-season produce is ripened and harested at just the right time, helping with the vibrant and delicious flavor. When you shop at a grocery store, you do not always know where the product is coming from or when it was picked, shipped, or delivered. You also will get the chance to discover heirloom produce, rare fruits, and specialty items that may not be available anywhere else. Exploring the farmers market opens up new possibilities for creative cooking!
3. You may be eating safer foods.
Many outbreaks of food-borne illnesses can happen due to large industrial settings, where people work to mass produce food, preserve it, and bag it in large amounts. Food from your local farmers market is generally safer. Since many local farmers do not work in mass production, the contamination risk may be lower.
4. You may save money.
Let’s face it, groceries are getting more expensive than they used to be. You may have heard that shopping at a farmers market is more expensive, but this isn’t always the case! When there is an abundance of a certain crop, the cost is much lower. Also, when the produce is in season, local farmers won’t have extensive travel or storage costs. All these factors determine what you pay in the store. Although the costs may not vary drastically, every dollar counts in today’s world!
5. It’s healthy and fun!
Going to the farmers market doesn’t have to be another chore on your to-do list. Shopping at the farmers market can be a fun event for the whole family. It is a great way to get involved in your local community, feel connected to the environment, and increase your intake of healthy foods. You can even take the next step and use the food you got at the farmers market and make a fun meal at home with your family! This Raspberry Cheesecake Mousse is a great example of a fun recipe that you can try using fresh raspberries from your local farmers market! There's just no way around it- eating fresh, local products are great for your overall health.
Shopping at your local farmers market is a rewarding and enriching experience on many levels. From savoring the freshest, healthiest produce, to supporting local farmers, farmers markets offer numerous advantages over traditional grocery stores. So, the next time you plan your supermarket visit, consider taking a stroll through your local farmers market and savor the delights of seasonal produce while contributing to a more sustainable community!