A farmers market is the best way to go about grocery shopping nowadays! If you’re preparing your family’s lunch and dinner meals in advance, then the nearby farmers market is the best place to buy your much-needed ingredients. Whether you need meat like chicken and beef, or fresh produce like potatoes and pumpkin, we’ll show you the reasons why you should start shopping at a farmers market from now on!
What Is A Farmers Market
But first, let’s answer the question: what is a farmers market, anyway?
Farmers markets are places where farmers can sell their homegrown produce directly to consumers. Typical farmers markets would have stalls, booths, tables, or stands for the growers to do their selling. This is unlike grocery aisles or supermarkets’ wide, permanent buildings.
These marketplaces are also not like grocery stores or supermarkets in the sense that the former sells actual fresh produce that are in season. They don’t sell packaged or frozen goods you’d typically find in grocery chains either. However, like supermarket chains, you can find plenty of farmers markets across many states!
In California, there are farmers markets in San Diego, like the Valley Farm Market, and farmers markets in Los Angeles, such as the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Meanwhile, down south there are farmers markets in Houston, Texas, like the Westchase, Urban Harvest, and Houston Farmers Market. So, it is a myth that farmers markets are few and sparse in between many states.
However, what truly sets farmers markets apart from other retail places is that they are also a place of community. Other than selling, this neighborhood market is an area where people can gather to connect with the people who grow their food, and with other people from the neighborhood as well.
All in all, when it comes to farmers markets, the emphasis is always on fresh and healthy locally-grown food.
What To Buy At A Farmers Market
You can buy all kinds of fresh produce in farmers markets! They have vegetables, fruits, spices, animal produce like eggs and milk, and of course, meat!
The Portland Farmers Market sells organic heritage meat like beef, pork, and lamb. Heritage meats are high quality since the animals these come from have been long bred for their topnotch genes. The best farmers markets, like Union Square Farmers Market in the state of Colorado, also sell artisanal breads as well as farmstead cheeses.
You can also buy treats like cookies or breakfast burritos while doing your shopping at these neighborhood marketplaces! In fact, many markets like Olympia Farmers Market in Washington state, sell treats, snacks, and even artisan items like tote bags and jewelry aside from fresh ingredients. Dallas Farmers Market in Dallas also has a massive shopping complex selling fresh food and flowers, and you can also dine in the numerous eateries inside!
Why Farmers Market: 6 Reasons To Choose Farmers Markets
We mentioned what a farmers market is, as well as the kinds of products you can buy from this neighborhood market. However, what’s more important is to answer the question of why shop at a farmers market?
What are the benefits of shopping at your local farmers market? In this article, we list 6 major reasons for why you should choose farmers markets when shopping for your food supplies!
Fresh, Healthy Organic Produce
It’s important to note that farmers markets started popping up because of a demand for fresh, locally-grown ingredients. As society has progressed, fast and instant has become the norm for almost everything, including food.
Before, seasonal fruits like avocados and strawberries were difficult to take a hold of when it wasn’t yet harvest time. Now, you can simply visit your local grocery store and buy these products with ease! However, nothing beats eating fresh fruits, veggies, and yes, even meat.
Fresh and Flavorful
The ingredients sold at farmers markets are personally grown by local farmers. They don’t travel hundreds or even thousands of miles from far-off farms to end up at the nearby grocery store. The produce sold at the neighborhood market is the freshest, and therefore the tastiest ingredients you can find.
Once they ripen in the field, they are directly brought to the stall in order to be sold to consumers like you. They don’t end up sitting for weeks in storage. This is as fresh as you’re going to get!
While it’s more convenient to be able to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables all year round, some nutritionists say that eating food during their natural harvest time is healthier for the body. It also lets you connect with nature better, and it makes more sense too!
Naturally, you will yearn for lighter produce like asparagus and watermelon during spring and summertime. Meanwhile, hearty winter vegetables like winter squash and radish are best eaten during the cold season!
The best part about eating seasonal produce is that food harvested or caught during their peak season means that you’re eating the freshest food possible. And it takes no expert to know that fresh food always tastes the best. Fresh, delicious, and healthy food, there is simply no good reason not to buy seasonal food during their harvest season!
Natural and Organic, non-GMO
Large-scale, factory farming has become the norm of food production thanks to our fast-paced world. These big farms do industrial farming, which practices monocultures. In monocultures, one type of fruit or vegetable is grown in one large plot of land as it’s more efficient when you’re doing wholesale selling of produce.
While this makes sure that there will always be plenty of green veggies and plants at your nearby grocery, it’s not so healthy for the soil it’s grown in. Monocultures zap all the soils’ important nutrients, making the plants more open to pests and diseases. This, in turn, makes the factory farms use all kinds of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Because the product wasn’t farmed in healthy ways, the plants will naturally end up being not so healthy as well. However, the growers who sell at farmers markets use natural, organic ways to grow their plants! It’s not only healthier for the land, it’s healthier for your body too. So if you plan on making healthy meals for yourself and loved ones, then shopping for ingredients at farmers markets is your best bet!
Wider Choice of Products
To be able to sell wholesale efficiently, factory farms usually only produce the most common variety of fruits and vegetables. However, the growers at farmers markets aren’t trapped by industrial farming and monocultures. So, they’re able to produce a wider variety of plants than factory farms.
This is one of the reasons why farmers markets can sell all kinds of different varieties of fruits and veggies you probably never knew even existed!
You can expect to find special kinds of produce in various farmers markets. Stalls at Buford Highway Farmers Market in the state of Georgia sell Dried jamaica hibiscus flowers, which you can use to make hibiscus tea with. They also sell pure cow ghee, an ancient type of Indian butter you can use when cooking samosas.
On the other hand, another popular farmers market in Georgia, DeKalb Farmers Market, prides itself with its wide variety of international and local fruits. They have all kinds, from taro roots to McIntosh apples (which are great for cooking baked goods like pies, cakes, and bread). They also have a wonderful selection of seafood and meats like veal, goat, and even rabbit! Plus, they offer Kosher and Halal-certified food for our Jewish and Muslim friends.
Meanwhile, Sprouts Farmers Market is famous for its premier yogurt and grapes. This Arizona-based marketplace houses The Grapery, who all but invented Cotton Candy grapes. Sprouts also has kiwi berries, a smaller variation of the green kiwi fruit. Last but not least, you can buy affordable cheeses like Kerrygold cheeses, which are great for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration meals.
Supports Local Farmers
Factory farms have been progressively taking over the farming industry, driving small family farms to close down. But when you shop at farmers markets, you support the local, small-time growers who can’t afford to compete with big companies.
Buying directly from farmers helps them more too. This way, they get compensated better for their produce since they don’t have to go through third parties like major grocery chain stores.
More Ethical and Environment-Friendly
Also, buying directly from local farmers is arguably the more ethical choice. These local farmers grow their produce in organic and natural ways, a sustainable method of producing food. Industrial farming is harmful to plants and more destructive to the land, too. But growing fruits and veggies in the most natural way isn’t so.
So, in this way, buying from farmers markets isn’t only beneficial to you and the farmers. It also helps benefit our little green planet we call home.
You Know Where Your Food Comes From
Supporting local farmers also helps you connect with the growers who make your food. This is a great way to learn about organic farming and natural food production. This way, you won’t be so cut off from what you eat. You understand all the hard work that went into producing your green veggies and citrus fruits. And you can also get tips in case you want to try growing produce in your own garden.
Farmers Markets Are More Affordable
Are farmers markets cheaper? One common myth around eating healthy food is that it’s more expensive than grocery-bought products. However, several studies have shown that fresh produce grown and sold by local farmers are actually cheaper than those at stores!
This has never been so apparent than when you visit a farmers market yourself. The best farmers market offers bulk-buying that’s cheaper and more convenient for busy, working parents. In addition, they also offer sales for certain products (which were already cheap, to begin with).
And because you’re buying directly from the farmers, there are fewer third parties involved that would have otherwise imposed additional fees on top of the original price.
More Bang for Your Buck
Not to mention, you also get more bang for your buck! The products sold at farmers markets are already healthier. But the fact that they’re cheaper than their grocery and supermarket counterparts really seals the deal. Eating healthier food can help people live longer and healthier lives, which will help you save on your future medical bills as well!
Better Treatment of Livestock like Cattle and Pigs
We mentioned that shopping at local farmers markets is more ethical than doing so in big chain stores. The same can be said when it comes to the treatment of animals like cattle, pigs, goats, and more.
Farmers markets still sell meat from animals. However, these animals don’t face the same terrible living conditions that large poultry farms are infamous for.
For one, the animals are not mass-produced. So, they aren’t injected with hormones and antibiotics to make aging faster, or to alter their body’s natural build. They also have natural diets and don’t suffer in cramped cages. Farmers markets also offer Kosher certified-meat, which ensures that the animals die a quick and painless death when they’re ready to be eaten.
Enjoy Farmers Markets Events
Organic, fresh food isn’t the only thing you can expect to find in farmers markets. Many farmers markets also hold events where the community can come together to experience.
Tennessee’s Nashville Farmers Market is great for shoppers who love participating in events, as it holds a monthly Night Market event filled with festivities. And who says that one can’t combine the arts and daily commodities together? Fountain Hills Farmers Market in Phoenix gives you a unique experience whereby you get to admire art while you shop for produce.
Asides from big monthly events, some farmers markets like the Peachtree Road and East Atlanta Village Farmers Market in Atlanta have chef’s demo activities. In these demos, chefs demonstrate how to cook with the local produce you can find in the markets itself. Some of the demos are designed to show how to use seasonal crops for quick, easy, and healthy meals at home. The East Atlanta Villages Farmers Market also has tree lighting and decorating activities during the Christmas season.
Farmers markets over at Hawaii, like the Makeke Kapolei Farmers Market, even hold cultural events that feature live Hawaiian music to showcase the island’s wonderful culture. They also hold special activities for the keiki, or kids.
There are many benefits to shopping at farmers markets! The food is healthier and fresher, you get to choose from a wider array of produce, it’s more affordable, and you get to support your local farmers. So whatever meal you’re thinking of cooking up for your loved ones today, consider buying your needed ingredients at the farmers market near you!