What are the benefits of shopping at your local farmers market? Here are 5 major reasons why you should choose farmers markets when shopping for your dinner supplies!
#1. Fresher, Healthier Produce
More and more farmers markets started popping up in the last decade because of a demand for fresh, locally-grown ingredients. As society has progressed, fast and instant has become the norm for almost everything, including food. But is that a good thing?
When I was a kid, seasonal fruits like summer squash and strawberries were difficult to find except for a small window of seasonality. Now, you can simply visit your local grocery store and buy these products with ease. But the flavor of a fresh, in season strawberry vs. one from the grocery store is night and day. Nothing beats the flavor of fresh fruits, veggies, meat, cheese & eggs.
Fresh and Flavorful
The ingredients sold at farmers’ markets are personally grown by local farmers. They don’t travel hundreds or even thousands of miles from far-off farms to end up at the nearby grocery store. The produce for sale is the freshest, and therefore the tastiest ingredients you can find.
Providing field ripened & hand harvested produce, small farmers harvest within days of the farmer’s market. OSF harvests all our greens the day before the market and we quality check every product the morning of.
While it’s convenient to buy fruits and vegetables all year round at the grocery store, some say eating food during the natural harvest period is healthier for the body. Eating seasonally allows you to connect more with your food. The best part about eating seasonal produce is the FLAVOR! Food harvested during it’s peak season means you’re eating the freshest, most delicious food possible!
Natural and Organic, non-GMO
Large-scale, factory farming has become the norm of food production. These big, industrial farms practice monoculture. In monocultures, one type of fruit or vegetable is grown in one large plot of land as it’s more efficient when you’re doing wholesale selling of produce.
While this makes sure that there is plenty of produce at your nearby grocery store (or does it?), it’s not so healthy for the soil. Monocultures zap the soils’ important nutrients, making the plants more open to pests and diseases. This, in turn, requires the factory farms to use harsh chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Most small growers use more natural ways to grow. And if you’re not sure about the farm’s practices -ASK-they should be happy to tell you how they grow.
A Certified Organic grower usually makes their label clear; it’s a big deal to be Certified Organic and local, organic produce is the healthiest option you can get.
It’s not only healthier for the land, it’s healthier for your body.
Wider Choice of Products
To be able to sell wholesale efficiently, factory farms only produce the most common variety of fruits and vegetables. However, growers at farmers markets aren’t trapped by industrial farming and monocultures. So, we’re able to produce a wider variety of plants than factory farms. Actually diversified crops are important to small farms like mine.
This is one of the reasons farmers markets can sell so many different varieties of fruits and veggies you probably never even knew existed!
You can expect to find special kinds of produce at farmers markets. For instance, garlic scapes, PawPaws, Sungold cherry tomatoes, and fava beans are hard to find in the grocery store. You’ll find fun varieties not commercially produced like white eggplant, pink & gold striped heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, mini broccoli, and an array of other produce not found in stores due to their short shelf life or sensitivity to shipping.
#2. Supports Local Farmers
Factory farms have been progressively taking over the farming industry, driving small family farms to close down. But when you shop at farmers markets, you support the local, small-time growers who can’t afford to compete with big companies.
Buying directly from farmers helps them stay in business and helps you access fresh, healthy farm food. It’s a win-win. We are fairly compensated for selling direct to you and don’t have to go through third party grocery chains.
More Ethical and Environment-Friendly
Buying directly from local farmers is the more ethical choice. So, in this way, buying from farmers markets isn’t only beneficial to you and the farmers. It also benefits our home, planet Earth.
You Know Where Your Food Comes From
By supporting local farmers you connect with the human who grew your food. This is a great way to learn about where your food comes from & how it was produced. You can get a glimpse of what goes into producing your food. The market is also a great place to get tips on how to prepare something new or advice for growing produce in your own garden. Customers have questions for me weekly about how to prepare kale or how to use fresh ginger.
#3. Farmers Markets Are Economical
Are farmers markets cheaper? One common myth around eating healthy food is that it’s more expensive than grocery-bought products. However, several studies have shown that fresh produce grown and sold by local farmers is actually more economical!
But sometimes it’s comparing apples to oranges. When you buy a bag of salad mix from OSF it was harvested the day before and will last at least a week.
When’s the last time you had a box or bag of salad last more than 3 days from the grocery store?
Fresh produce that lasts longer is money in your pocket.
Pay Your Doctor or Pay Your Farmer
You get more bang for your buck. The products at farmers markets are fresher, more nutritious and healthier. Small farmers are good stewards of their land. We have to take care of what we’ve got.
Healthy soil = healthy food.
You are what you eat. So when you eat healthy food, you’re healthier and stay out of the doctors office and off prescription medications.
#4. Better Treatment of Livestock like Cattle, Pigs and Chickens.
Aforementioned, shopping at local farmers markets is more ethical than doing so in big chain stores. The same can be said when it comes to the treatment of animals like cattle, pigs, goats, chickens and more.
In most cases animals raised on small farms don’t face the same terrible living conditions that large poultry farms are infamous for. So this means less or no antibiotics, no hormones and more fresh air and sunshine.
For one, the animals are not mass-produced. So, they aren’t injected with hormones and antibiotics to grow faster and prevent illness from the cramped, manure-laden living conditions. They’re more likely to have natural diets and get daily fresh air, fresh water and sunshine; something you see on your egg or milk carton from the grocery store but rarely has any resemblance to the truth. It’s just creative marketing.
Lynn Ferguson of Ferguson Family Farms loves to talk about her treatment of her animals and how her meat is way more nutritious being 100% grass fed and pastured. You will find that small farmers like to talk about the food they raise because it’s their life’s work and they are proud of the product they sell.
#5. Connect With Your Community
You can get to know your farmers and your community at farmers markets. You’ll find like minded folks and who knows you may make a new friend.
Farm fresh food isn’t the only thing you can expect to find in farmers markets. Many hold events that can bring the community together.
Some farmers’s markets have events for kids, community yoga, live music, cooking demos and so much more. At our little Hereford Farm market we have live music every week! Conclusion
There are many benefits to shopping at farmers markets. The food is healthier and fresher, you get to choose from a wider array of produce, it’s more affordable, and you get to support your local farmers and connect with your community. So whatever meal you’re thinking of cooking up for your loved ones today, consider buying your needed ingredients at a farmers market near you!
Come see us at the Hereford Farmer’s Market this Saturday from 9-12noon. We have lots of beautiful local produce and we appreciate your support!
Follow OakSpringFarm on Facebook or Instagram @OakSpringFarm to see what we’re growing seasonally.
You can also check out our website to see how we do CSA!
Sign up for our ‘Guest List’ and be the first to know about specials, events, recipes and more!
If you like this post please share it with a like minded friend! Spread the good word of going to Farmers Markets.