It’s that time of year again; farmers’ markets are back! Lettuces, kale, swiss chard, pea greens, radishes, strawberries – there’s lots of early spring produce, especially with greenhouse grown vegetables. You can also get locally raised eggs, meat, and poultry, fresh-baked goods, locally produced cheeses, potted plants and herbs, handcrafted soaps and lotions, and artisanal items. Every week it’s something different.
I’m thrilled that the farmers’ market concept has caught on. The average food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate, consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and generating major CO2 emissions. Produce is picked unripe, then gassed to ripen, or processed using preservatives or irradiation, losing important nutritional value. With farmers’ markets, food is grown locally using organic or sustainable farming practices and picked at peak ripeness. Fresh and nutritious, there is nothing tastier than a vegetable or fruit straight from the farm.
There are many other advantages. When you shop at a farmers’ market, you are supporting local farmers and the local economy. The farmer sells directly to the customer; middlemen are eliminated and the farmer gets to keep more of his profits.
In this era of prepackaged foods, there is little direct connection to our food. At a farmers’ market, you meet and get to know the people who grow your food and they get to know the people who eat the food they grow. Today’s children will grow up understanding that their food doesn’t just come in a plastic bag from a giant supermarket, instead someone actually plants the seeds, cares for the tender plant and then harvests the fruit or vegetable.
Farmers’ markets bring the community together; they are a place for neighbors and friends to connect. Participating local musicians, food trucks, art shows, and children’s activities make food shopping a real event.
Local farms help preserve open space, protect the land and promote healthy ecosystems. With sustainable farming, the soil isn’t contaminated with toxic chemicals, keeping our waterways safe.
I participated in the Mashpee farmers’ market on Cape Cod last weekend answering green living questions. Shoppers and vendors were happy, enjoying the warm summer day. Customers chatted with the farmers and admired the fruits of their labor. One vendor even sings opera! Farmer’s markets provide an old-fashioned respite from our fast-paced, wired lives.
So, take a break and visit the farmers’ market in your town. You’ll enjoy more than the delicious and nutritious produce grown in your area, you’ll enjoy the whole experience.
If you are in the Mashpee area on Cape Cod, stop by the Farmers’ Market at the Mashpee Commons and say hi. I’m there most Saturdays – the market runs from 1:30 – 6:00!
Some information compiled from winchesterfarmersmarket.org.