Need a reason to explore your local farmer's market? Consider this a sign! Try an alternative to shopping in the fluorescent lighted, narrow aisles of the supermarket and experience the fun and outdoors of farmer's markets.
1. You Support Family Farms
Let's face it -- the days of the yeoman farmer are over. Small farms simply can't compete against the dominating influence of agribusiness. Industrial farms are too enormous and produce goods more cheaply and efficiently in comparison. However, buying directly from the source, via farmers' markets, allows family farms to compete in this tough economy, as every cent from your purchase goes straight to their pocket. It's satisfying to honor the tradition of meeting the grower of your food face-to-face.
2. You Want to Save the Environment by Buying Locally
Industrial farms generally practice monoculture, only growing one type of crop at a time in order to attain the highest possible yield. Despite being more productive, monocultures quickly drain the soil of its nutrients, leaving it virtually barren for seasons afterwards. The chemical fertilizers and pesticides utilized in industrial farming are likewise not environmentally sustainable.
The food you see in supermarkets often travels a long way to get there, crossing rivers, mountains, and sometimes oceans. Such large-scale shipping inevitably demands huge quantities of fossil fuels for gas and extraneous packaging. Food at farmer's markets, on the other hand, is transported much shorter distances, greatly reducing the impact on the environment.
3. You Live Organically
Even produce labeled "organic" at grocery stores might still be processed and grown with pesticides, antibiotics, or other chemicals, designed to promote faster growth and ensure a longer shelf life. At farmer's markets, you know exactly what farms your fruit and veggies come from and can safely assume that they were truly grown organically... and disease outbreaks almost never occur on small farms. Plus, if you're someone who seeks to avoid genetically modified food, farmer's markets only offer produce bred the old timey way.
4. You Love Animals
Animals raised on small farms are not subject to the same hormones and antibiotics as those raised on industrial farms. While some large farms no doubt provide comfortable lives for their livestock, you can be assured that all animal products at farmer's markets derived from humane conditions. You can eat your meat, cheese, and eggs without fear that the animals were raised on feedlots.
5. You Crave More Flavors and Better Tasting Food
Mmm... baked goods, handpicked fruits and veggies, and home grown honey. The vibrant colors of the produce alone hint at how tasty everything at the Farmer's Market is.
Produce trucked in from halfway across the world is older and less flavorful. The ideal time to eat produce is 24 hours after harvest, when taste and nutrition levels are at their highest.
6. You Like to Learn
Any question you have about farming can be easily answered by any vendor at the market. How cool is it to have a direct line of contact with a real farmer? Furthermore, the farmer's market doesn't just boast produce. Some markets feature DIY jewelry, candle making or brewing tutorials, live music, and activities for kids.
7. You Want to Bond With Your Community
At the farmer's market, shopping is entertainment. Here, in San Francisco, we have at least one farmer's market for each neighborhood. I love to run into my neighbors every weekend and catch up about what's happening in their lives. It's easy to get overwhelmed by how expansive and crowded San Francisco is. The farmer's market gives a small taste of the rural lifestyle I miss sometimes.