Hello friends. I have some fabulous links for you today. But first, I want to chat a bit about something I feel really really passionate about: Farmer’s markets.
Since our Somerville Union Square farmer’s market opened three weeks ago, I’ve been featuring a lot of fabulous things I picked up on this site. I have been getting a bunch of comments and emails about some of the produce I’ve found. Garlic scapes, baby spring onions, salad turnips and purple carrots are just some of the unique produce I’ve found. I get many questions and comments about these things because they are not traditionally available in the supermarket. Which just illustrates the amazing awesomeness of farmer’s markets. So I wanted to take a minute and share some data I found with you.
Anyone not living under a rock knows that times are tough right now. Supporting your local economy and small businesses is one of the best things you can do with your dollars. Local markets produce very tangible personal, economic and environmental benefits.
- Most local farms use organic or low-pesticide farming techniques and also use non-GMO seeds.
- Farmer’s market produce is the freshest you can get. Usually it was picked that morning or the day before. Vivid colors correlate to high levels of vitamins and nutrients.
- Local farms support polyculture. Industrial and factory farms practice monoculture – the practice of planing only one crop. Monoculture farming drains the soil of nutrients and makes crops more susceptible to disease and pests, which requires more pesticides and fertilizers. These practices are extremely environmentally unfriendly as well as unhealthy. Polyculture planting encourages the diversity of natural ecosystems and utilized crop rotation and companion planting to maintain soil nutrients and grow strong and nutrient-dense crops.
- Local markets create jobs. A recent study by the Farmer’s Market Coalition found that establishing 21 farmer’s markets in Oklahoma created 112 new full time jobs. Spending money locally not only helps the farms employ workers, but also circulates your money within the local community, which creates as well as preserves jobs.
- Markets also help stimulate economic grown in their immediate vicinities. 60% of market shoppers also patronize neighboring businesses on market day.
- A 2006 study from the New Economic Foundation found that the London Queens market produces $48 of economic activity for every $19 spent at the market itself.
- Low waste. Farmer’s pick precisely what can be sold, minimizing waste. In addition, leftover produce is preserved, turning tomatoes into sauce or apples into juice. Unsaleable produce is composted to return nutrients back to the fields.
- Service to the community. In addition, most local markets have arrangements with local food banks and soup kitchens for leftover goods. In Seattle, farmer’s markets donated 40,000 pounds of produce to local food banks in 2007.
- Super fresh food just tastes better. Farmers pick at the peak of freshness and get it to you ASAP. You can taste the differences in flavor and texture.
- Markets highlight unique and local produce. Usually the variety is far greater than the supermarket. Last week, our market had five different varieties of kale! I find that when I see these great ingredients I am more motivated to cook and try new recipes.
- Knowledge and control. When you shop locally, you know exactly where your food came from. You can chat with farmers and learn about the farms and their growing techniques. Usually, you can also visit these farms or sign up for CSA programs as well.
- Market produce has accumulated less “food miles” which means it has not traveled across the country (or the world) to reach you. This saves substantially on fuel costs, which drives down the actual prices as well as the environmental impact.
- Markets use way less packaging that traditional grocery stores. Cutting down on plastic and paper, as well as bringing your own reusable bags, is better for the environment.
- Yummy prepared foods. Our market has fresh bread, homemade cheese (the string cheese is incredible!), fresh fruit popsicles, baked goods, plants, flowers, sauces, hummus and mini whoopie pies!!! All of which are produced locally.
- Support local farms. Supporting local small business is important, but especially your local farming community. Having access to local, fresh food is a great privilege, and its essential to keep family farms in our communities for many generations. Purchasing your produce locally helps to give family farms the necessary capital to keep operating.
- Family farms are not industrialized. Don’t give your money to corporations who poison people with pesticide and fertilizer while shipping jobs outside the US.
- Price. Farmers price their good competitively, and can usually offer great prices because markets cut out the “middle man.” Generally, savings are greatest on organic produce.
- Local markets also build community, bringing people together to interact and enjoy local goods. Our market features local artists and performers and weekly activities and programming for kids.
- Watch out for detergent pods! They pose a poisoning risk – NYT
- Best and worst foods for digestion – Health.com
- Habits of successful dieters – CNN
- Seven benefits of regular exercise – Mayo Clinic