4 Reasons to shop at your local farmers' market
“As a Curves member, you understand the value of community—we’re stronger together. Shopping at your farmer’s market supports the growers in your area, preserves farmland, and boosts your local economy.”
There’s nothing like the taste of fresh peas, ripe strawberries, or sun-kissed cherry tomatoes picked off the vine and popped in your mouth as you harvest them in the garden. But if you don’t have a backyard garden, your local farmers’ market is the next best thing. The produce sold at farmers’ markets is fresher than anything you’ll find in the supermarket, and peak freshness equals maximum flavour. But great taste is only one of the reasons to shop at your local farmers’ market. Here are four more.
1. Fresh and nutritious
The fresher your produce, the more nutritious it can be. Once a fruit or vegetable has been plucked from the vine, nutrients can begin to break down. The longer it takes for a veggie to get to your table, the less nutritious it is. Not only does time off the vine matter— researchers at the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies found that a typical Melbourne shopping basket has travelled a huge 70,000 kilometres (almost two loops of the globe!)1—how that produce is handled also makes a difference.
Because of that long-distance transport, commercial farmers tend to grow varieties of vegetables and fruits that produce high yields and are more durable. Small, local growers are more likely to choose varieties for flavour and nutrition. When you have an option, choose heirloom varieties, which have not been bred for commercial purposes and produce fruits and vegetables that may be richer in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
Finally, local farmers may or may not use fully organic farming practices but most enrich their soil with compost or cover crops, which create a growing medium that plants love. Their roots reach deeper making them more efficient at taking up nutrients. And one of the best things about buying produce at a farmers’ market is that you can speak directly with the farmer about his or her farming practices.
2. Potentially lower costs
Every step of bringing a head of lettuce to your supermarket--from growing and harvesting, to transporting, to storing, to placing it in the store’s vegetable bins--adds to the cost. The farmer who picks her lettuce in the morning and takes it to the local farmers’ market may charge a lower price.
3. New food ideas
Farmers love trying new varieties of plants. So as you stroll past stands piled with produce, expect to find a vegetable or fruit you haven’t come across before. Talk with the farmer about this new gem—its taste, how to serve it or use it in a recipe. New veggie or old favourite, farmers are happy to share their recommendations for preparing and enjoying the fruits of their labour. Don’t be shy about asking for suggestions.
4. A stronger community
As a Curves member, you understand the value of community—we’re stronger together. Shopping at your farmer’s market supports the growers in your area, preserves farmland, and boosts your local economy. It’s good for your health and the health of your community. To find a farmers’ market in your local area, check out the market directory on The Australian Farmers’ Markets Association website at http://farmersmarkets.org.au/markets.
Go early, go often, and enjoy!