I started going to farmers’ markets when I was in college before it was cool. You may call me weird; I would like to say I was community-focused and food aware. (I realize adding popular terms also makes me seem like I’m trying too hard.) Either way, I loved supporting small farmers and getting good produce when I had 100% control over what food I could purchase as a young adult. I noticed immediately the difference between grocery store produce and locally grown. Because the produce was limited to what was in season, the flavors were more pronounced, the colors were more vibrant, and the sizes, well, seemed as they should be. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I am making a difference for not only my health but also for the regional farmers and small businesses.
Supporting small farmers and preserving local farmland is exactly why 50 years ago several states, notably New York and California, encouraged the growth of farmers’ markets. It gave the consumers more options and opportunities to buy from people aligned with their values of transparency in business practices and production methods. Before farmers’ markets became a weekend event and just another option of where to get food, “[they] were the primary means for urban customers to access meats, dairy, and fresh produce” for hundreds of years. Covent Market explains that when food systems became less controlled in the early 1900s, it resulted in more room for competition to grow among food sellers. Soon farmers’ markets were not necessary when grocery stores opened on every corner. Then once the roads and transportation improved in the 50s and 60s, it made moving food easier and less expensive. Grocery stores became a necessary middleman.
We will never be able to go without grocery stores now in our modern life, but it doesn’t hurt to explore a farmers’ market every once in a while. Doing a part of your grocery shopping at a farmers’ market makes a difference when you support small businesses and farmers. Here’s where you can find a farmers’ market near you.
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