'Tis the season farmer's markets begin sprouting up. They stock their booths and tents with spectacular bursts of color and amazing flavor varieties. Though many of the items can be found at local, big chain grocery stores, you can't beat freshness straight from the farm.
Here are some great reasons you may want to consider patronizing your neighborhood market:
1. It’s Local – When shopping with local farmers, your produce doesn’t have to endure long shipments. By reducing shipping, you are helping to cut down the amount of packing materials and carbon monoxide emissions used during the shipping process.
2. Unbeatable Freshness – Local farmers don’t have to harvest produce until it’s ready to eat, keeping the max freshness from soil to plate. Larger, nationwide suppliers must pick their produce before it's ripe to ensure it can be shipped and delivered to stores on time. In addition to losing freshness from early harvesting, also consider the amount of time produce has to sit on the shelves or in packaging.
3. Maximum Nutrition – Because local farmers can wait until foods are ripe to harvest them, their produce stays fully packed with nutrients and flavor - qualities that are lost with early harvesting and shipping. The sooner you eat produced after it's picked, the more nutritious it is for you.
4. In Season – Your farmer’s market will only carry what is in season. This could be a GREAT opportunity to learn what is available during certain times of the year, and who knows, maybe give something new a try! This could also be a great experience for children - encouraging them to find, taste and learn about food they haven't seen before.
5. Community Support – Chances are, the local farm is a small, family run operation, which has been part of the community for generations. They count on the support of neighbors and community in order to stay in business. What better way to show your appreciation of all they do and support your local economy in the process.
6. More Natural – There's a good chance your local farmer uses less harmful pesticides and hormones than nationwide suppliers. Unlike larger farms that are required to mass produce for stores all over the country, local farms don’t have this same demand. Many have the ability to be more precautious and take steps to ensure their food is healthy and flavorful instead of prioritizing large quantities over taste.
7. Know Your Food Source – People like to buy items from people they trust, why should food be any different? When you buy locally, you really get to know the people who bring food to your table. Take time to talk to local farmers. Learn about their farm; find out what processes are involved in harvesting, what types of soil and fertilizers they use, as well as what precautions they take against insects and other hazards to their food. All about organic foods? This would be a great way to find out if those are the standards your local farm lives up to.
8. Get Tips – Local farmers are often very friendly people and always willing to lend a helping hand to their customers. Unsure how to prepare a certain veggie? They are sure to have some great tips on ways to prepare the foods that they sell.
Everyone in the Accardi family has their favorite booth at the Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market: Carrie likes the wheat grass juice from Susie Sunshine Sprouts, Mike enjoys the extra-large peaches from Tuckey’s Mountain Grown, Cassidy always gets sugared nuts from Nuts To You, Colby says the fresh homemade pasta from Papparadelle’s Pasta tastes better than any other and Cameron likes the honey for his peanut butter and honey sandwiches from Honey Bee Lake Apiary. Visiting the market together is a fun family outing!
If you’ve never been to a local farmer’s market for food, why not give it a try this season and see what you think. We’d LOVE to hear some of your stories or tell us about your favorite farm on our Facebook page!