Market Master Barbara Wilder recently sent me an article she had seen from the Farmers Market Foundation with 10 reasons why farmers markets are a better choice than shopping at the supermarket. 

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Farmers Markets vs. Supermarkets

Many people gravitate toward buying at supermarkets because of convenience, price, and availability; but as more and more farmers markets emerge, we find ourselves with more and healthier options. Here are 10 reasons why farmers markets are a healthier and wiser choice.

  1. Supporting local farmers: Purchasing from farmers markets helps keep small family farms in business and contributes to the local economy.
  2. Seasonal produce: Our bodies need different nutrients in different seasons, like root vegetables during autumn and winter for warmth.
  3. Ethical meat: Grass-fed and free-range meat is sold at the farmers markets – a healthier alternative to factory-farm raised animals.
  4. Interactive experience: You can speak to the vendor about the product, ask questions about how it is grown, raised, or prepared.
  5. Nutrient packed produce: Farmers markets sell local produce which means it was just harvested (probably yesterday) to provide you with the most vitamins and minerals.
  6. It’s good for the environment: Cutting down on processing, packaging, and shipping reduces the amount of fossil fuels burned.
  7. Tasting samples: You can discover new fruits and vegetables that some farmers will offer  samples of, especially if it’s something that’s not that common.
  8. Variety: You can find an amazing array of produce that you don’t see in your average supermarket; red carrots, heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, green garlic, watermelon radishes, kohlrabi, wild mushrooms, and much more.
  9. Knowing where your food comes from: Meeting and talking to farmers and food artisans is a great opportunity to learn more aobut how and where food is produced.
  10. Hidden gems: Most markets will sell natural body products, locally sourced chocolates, home made ice cream, homemade baked goods, and more.

farmers market 2Commentary:

Reading the list brings up numerous topics that could be expanded on for further discussion in the future. For now, I would like to take a closer look at the idea of seasonal produce.

When you purchase produce in season you get so much more than buying something in the supermarket. Produce at the farmers market has usually been picked the day before, so it is ripe and fresh. The same item at the supermarket was probably picked a week ago or more, before it was completely ready, sprayed with something to preserve it (not to mention what it might have been sprayed with while it was growing or what was mixed in with the soil before and after it was planted), and shipped across the country from California, Florida, or even South America. Now which would you rather eat?

Fresh local produce is in tune with our bodies’ seasonal clocks too. I don’t know about you, but at the first hint of spring, I begin to crave fresh peas, greens, mushrooms, and early berries. When cold autumn winds begin to blow, I long for satisfying soups and hearty stews with root vegetables. For many thousands of years before food became industrialized, humans had to eat what was available in each season. Eating in season from locally grown chemical-free options is a healthy natural way to nourish your body.

We would love to hear from you about what reasons you think are important to buy from the farmers market instead of the supermarket and how you feel about the topic of seasonal produce. What topic from the list above would you like to see discussed next? You can post comments below.

Editor’s note: Recommended reading — Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver