It’s farmers market day!
And that means you have a decision to make:
Are you going to breathe in the morning air and pick from the freshest produce in town or…
Option #2: head to the same concrete box you always shop at.
To be fair, not all grocery stores are dreary and stifling, and natural grocers are popping up all over the country.
With that said, most of their food is still shipped long distances.
The food at farmers markets, on the other hand, travel only a few dozen miles on average.
Plus, they are vibrant places that bring the community together while supporting local agriculture.
To top it all off, farmers market produce is usually more flavorful.
Here are the 13 top reasons to shop at your local farmers market:
1. Build Community
Without a doubt, the farmers market is a great place to meet like-minded, compassionate people.
Just ask yourself, when was the last time you made a meaningful connection at the supermarket?
Instead of hurriedly filling their carts, people tend to be more outgoing at farmers markets.
They can also be great places to spend time with family and friends, and many sell ready-to-eat food so you can nibble while you chat.
If you’re lucky, your market might even have live music, a cooking class, or other similar activities.
2. Trust Factor
How much do you really trust the food safety at conventional grocery stores?
By the time it reaches your table, it’s touched tons of conveyor belts and passed through endless hands.
The fact of the matter is, there are more opportunities for something gross to happen to it.
Farmers market food, on the other hand, has a more predictable journey from farm to table.
In most cases, you could probably count the people who have handled your food on one hand.
Talk about peace of mind!
Natural grocers and locally owned stores are close runners up, but nothing boosts the trust factor like farmers markets.
3. Cooking Tips, Meal Ideas, and Delicious Recipes
Need some culinary inspiration?
The vendors at farmers markets are usually passionate about the food they produce.
As a result, they like to share cooking tips that help their ingredients shine!
After all, it takes a lot of tender loving care to grow wholesome produce.
In the end, there’s no greater reward than turning their food into delicious dishes.
Chefs love farmers markets because they’re inspired by the bright, vibrant fruits and veggies.
In fact, you might see vendors giving away pamphlets with amazing home-cooked recipes.
Imagine stumbling upon the best tomatoes you’ve ever seen!
What on Earth are you going to do with all those plump beauties!?
Between the knowledgeable vendors and other friendly shoppers, you’re sure to find inspiration around the corner.
4. Soak Up the Season
The farmers market puts the best seasonal produce at your fingertips.
While it’s true that some grocery stores stock great local produce, the berries at farmers markets are usually picked the day before.
There are a ton of advantages to eating seasonal produce. (1)
For one, the flavors are fuller because the plants are picked in their prime.
In fact, you’ve probably already noticed that corn tastes sweeter in summer.
Likewise, there’s nothing like crunching into a piece of spring asparagus.
And come fall, why not go crazy with the best pumpkin you’ve ever tasted?
Make pumpkin everything!
Pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin scramble…you name it (just make sure to use stevia in place of sugar).
Plus, your digestive system will thank you for eating seasonal foods.
The enzymes that break down food are different for each fruit and vegetable. (2)
By eating mostly seasonal foods, you can reduce the workload on your digestive system.
As the foods you eat change with the seasons, so will your enzymes.
This natural ebb and flow is great for the digestive system and can help reduce gut inflammation.
5. Ditch the Industrial Pollutants
Industrialized farming is the norm throughout the country.
However, at farmers markets, the opposite is true.
While it’s impossible to speak for all local farmers, local produce is more likely to be organic.
This is because local farmers don’t have the same incentive to use pesticides and preservatives.
Their operations are smaller and it’s easier to keep pests at bay without them.
Plus, they increase sales by improving the taste of their food, not by increasing the volume.
On a similar note, conventional produce has to be waxed, gassed, and irradiated because it travels long distances.
Do you really want to eat food that’s been irradiated?
Farmers market produce, on the other hand, is less processed.
By the time it hits your cutting board, a quick rinse is all it’ll need before it’s safe and ready to eat.
6. Support Your Local Economy
It can be hard to track, but in the end buying local can have a big impact on the local economy.
Buying local produce supports the businesses that give back to your community.
When was the last time a major grocery chain sponsored your kid’s t-ball team?
The next time you shop at a big box store, remember this fact:
On average, farmers make less than a quarter for every dollar sold.
On the other hand, when you shop at a farmers market, your local farmer keeps close to 100% of the profits.
However, family farms are at a huge disadvantage compared to big grocery chains.
Box stores provide distribution and convenience.
Plus, they ensure that the product will get sold before it goes to waste.
Small farmers are taking a risk when they don’t sell out, and they need your help to stay afloat.
By buying local you give family farms a shot at competing against the big guys.
When it all shakes out, local farmers strengthen the economy.
7. Ripe, Fresh, Delicious
There’s a secret that the big grocery chains don’t want you to know: their produce is usually picked green.
By picking it early, the food stays sellable longer and is less likely to bruise in transport.
It’s a huge upside for the company, but a massive downside for you, the buyer.
Local farmers have the benefit of selling right where they farm, and that means they get to harvest at peak ripeness.
At this point, the plants are overflowing with flavor and packed with nutrients. (3)
You’ll probably never forget the first time you drink fresh coconut juice right off the tree.
And ripe mangoes on the beach in Mexico?
If you live in Washington state, those same fruits have to be picked green before they’re shipped.
Unfortunately, the end result is a less flavorful product.
However, take a trip down to Cabo San Lucas and you can take a bite out of heaven.
Unfortunately, most farmers markets don’t have access to fresh mangoes, but the fact remains…
Ripe produce tastes better, and nobody does it better than farmers markets.
8. Non-GMO and Organic
Much of the food you find at farmers markets is going to be organic.
Organic farming is better for the soil and better for your body.
In conventional grocery stores, the organic section is usually tiny.
At your local farmers market, on the other hand, organic food stretches as far as the eye can see.
In fact, you might not even be able to find a conventional carrot if you wanted to.
Local farmers know what their customers want, and that’s wholesome organic food.
After all, the customer’s always right, and local farmers give the people what they want.
9. More Nutrition Per Pound
While it’s true that farmers market can be more expensive per pound, nutritionally it’s usually a better value.
The proof is in the color.
Take one look at the vibrant colors of your local produce and you’ll know the truth: they pack a nutritional punch.
In contrast, take one look at the produce in a conventional store and you’ll see right away that it pales in comparison (literally).
When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter how cheap your cauliflower is if it’s depleted of calcium.
On the flip side, you might find double the vitamins and minerals in just a few bites of the cauliflower at your local farmers market.
This is because local farmers rotate their crops and don’t deplete the soil of nutrients.
Conventional farming methods, on the other hand, sap the soil.
Instead of eating zucchini that’s packed with a diverse mineral profile, it becomes an empty vessel.
Sure, it still looks like a zucchini and tastes like a zucchini…but the life-giving nutrients aren’t there.
10. Greater Variety
In the average grocery store, you can see its entire collection of organic produce in one glance.
And if you’re lucky, you might be able to find one or two options for organic local honey or artisanal cheese.
Take a trip to the local farmers market though, and you’ll be drowning in a sea of options.
Small local farms usually produce a ton of different foods in small batches.
Chances are you’ll find some pretty unique things, like purple cauliflower, green garlic, quail eggs, heirloom tomatoes, and watermelon radishes.
Is your mouth watering yet?
Just think of all the one-of-a-kind dishes you can make!
The biodiversity of these plants is great for the planet and for your health.
11. Burn Less Fuel
In the U.S., food travels an average of 1,500 miles before it reaches your dining room table. (4)
Compare that to the mere 50 miles that most food travels to farmers markets.
The fact is, shipping food across the country uses a ton of fuel.
To begin with, the sheer distance that grocery trucks travel is only part of the problem.
The real problem is that most of them are refrigerated, which means they use even more gas to keep the food cold.
12. Better For The Environment In Every Way
Reducing oil consumption is only one of the many ways that farmers markets help save the environment.
Local produce uses less packaging (if any at all) and that means less plastic and fewer paper containers.
Farmers market food is often organic, and that means it doesn’t contribute to toxic agricultural runoff.
With conventional food, even if you manage to wash off the pesticides, they still end up going down the drain.
Eventually, these toxins make it into the water we drink and the soil where our food grows.
13. Animal Rights
The treatment of animals in conventional farming can be horrific.
The animal products at farmers markets, on the other hand, tend to live in better conditions.
They’re raised in cleaner environments, which makes for cleaner, healthier food.
Which would you rather feed to your family?
If you have any further questions, our providers at Complete Care Health Centers are happy to help.
Feel free to contact us for more farmers market tips today.