Even though the growth of farmers markets in the U.S. has tapered off, it still continues to rise. In 2016, there were 8,669 farmers markets listed in the USDA Farmers Market listing, a modest increase of 2.3 percent from 2015 numbers. Some of the biggest farmers markets in the U.S. are found in large cities such as Washington D.C., San Francisco, New Orleans, Portland, OR, and Chicago. But farmers markets can be found just about anywhere, and they offer many of the same benefits.
If you haven’t yet begun to explore your local farmers market, there’s no better time to start than this weekend. Here are a few reasons why shopping at a farmers market is a win-win;
- Freshness. Even the freshest of fruits and vegetables at your local grocery store are at least a few days old. But farmers markets offer produce that is fresh-picked, sometimes the very same day.
- Produce is typically sustainably grown and nutrient-dense. While not all local farmers abstain from using pesticides, the vast majority do; ensuring that the produce you purchase is packed with nutrients, not chemicals.
- Better taste. Nothing compares to the taste of a vine-grown tomato. Compare that to the taste of a tomato grown in a hothouse, picked before it was fully ripe and then shipped 1,500 miles to your local grocery store. No comparison.
- Supporting your local farmers market also supports your local economy and family farms. The family farm is quickly becoming obsolete, as more small farmers are being forced out by industrial farms. Buying from local farmers helps to ensure that they will remain in business for the long term.
- Reduces your carbon footprint. By purchasing fruits, vegetables and other products directly from local farmers, you’ll also be reducing your carbon footprint by helping to conserve fuel, and reduce the use of pesticides and other fertilizers.
- You’ll know how your food was grown. You may even be able to visit the farm and see their practices in person. This helps to develop a relationship between the farmer and the consumer.
If you’re looking to get to know your local farmer, there’s no better place than the farmers market. And you’ll get a lot of fresh, delicious produce as in the process.
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