Farmer’s Markets are typically underrated and underappreciated in small communities, but why? Some would say that going to a supermarket is more convenient, the hours are longer, some are open 24/7 and you can find everything in one place. But bigger doesn’t always mean better. Here are some reasons to support local farmer’s and food vendors in the area.
1. Real flavors
This food is as real as it gets – straight from the farm. When you buy fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market, they are the freshest and tastiest available.
“Our fruits naturally ripen in the fields,” said Anne Miller. Miller is Amish, she and her family have been selling their fruits and vegetables road-side in Minford for the past 5 years. “Then they’re brought straight to you.” No long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage.
2. Seasonal finds
The food you buy at the farmer’s market is seasonal. It is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavors. Shopping and cooking from the farmer’s market helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in our region. “Our farm is known for our tomatoes,” said Tim Williams. “When we set up at the market, people get excited. They stop in every week to see if we’ve got our tomatoes yet, and once we bring them in, they sell out quick. You might be able to buy tomatoes at the store year round, but they aren’t going to be as good, I can tell you that.”
3. Supporting family farmers
Family farmers need your support, now that large agribusiness dominates food production in the U.S. Small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance against big-box businesses. According to the Institute of Local Self-Reliance, small-scale, locally owned businesses create communities that are more prosperous, entrepreneurial, connected, and generally better off.
4. Eco-friendly alternative
On average, food in the U.S. travels about 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes to pollution, and creates trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land, and air with toxic agricultural by-products. Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.
5. Nourish yourself
Foods found in grocery stores can be highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. Some of it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. These practices may have negative effects on human health. “I’ve received some negative comments about why my vegetables are smaller than the ones you can buy at the store,” said one participant, who wished to remain anonymous. “and that’s because my vegetables aren’t modified. Vegetables aren’t naturally the size of your head. They’re just not. People don’t have an appreciation for doing things the good old-fashioned way, and they don’t realize the harm that these chemicals can have on their bodies. Luckily, it seems like the organic life-style is in fashion and that’s helped some, but people should realize that store-bought foods are modified, out in the wild, they’re nothing like what you find in the store.”
6. Variety, the spice of life
At the farmers market you find an amazing array of produce that you don’t see in your average supermarket: red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, stinging nettles, green garlic, watermelon radishes, quail eggs, maitake mushrooms, and more. You can also find homemade products like soaps, bath products, skincare and other crafts that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. These products can make unique one-of-a-kind gifts and surprises for loved ones.
7. Promote humane treatment of animals
At the farmers market, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and eaten natural diets, and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of feedlots and cages that are typical of animal agriculture.
8.Know where your food comes from
A regular trip to a farmers market is one of the best ways to connect with where your food comes from. Meeting and talking to farmers and food artisans is a great opportunity to learn more about how and where food is produced.
9.Learn cooking tips, recipes, and meal ideas
Few grocery store cashiers or produce stockers will give you tips on how to cook the ingredients you buy, but farmers, ranchers, and artisans at the farmers market are often passionate cooks with plenty of free advice about how to cook the foods they are selling. They can help you connect with other vendors, who may be selling something that pairs nicely with the item you bought, or they can give you tips on how to slice an onion without crying.
10. Connect with your community
Wouldn’t you rather stroll amidst outdoor stalls of fresh produce on a sunny day than roll your cart around a grocery store with artificial lights and piped in music? Coming to the farmers market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. The farmers market is a community hub—a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children, or just get a taste of small-town life. Some markets even offer incentives like HealthyBucks, or coupons for kids. Some even accept EBT/Snap benefits, making the market accessible for everyone.
To find a farmer’s market near you, or how to start a farmer’s market in your community, please visit www.ohioproud.org for more information.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-353-3101 ext. 1932, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara