When we’re hungry, most of us head to our local supermarket to buy groceries. Instead, what if our natural cue was to head to the local farmers market, and what if farmers markets were a mainstream thing? For me, currently living in a food desert is not so great. As a nutrition professional, I know the importance of buying and eating locally grown food, so when there are so few options to purchase locally grown food, I am not too happy (walmart is the best we’ve got). There are SO many wonderful benefits to buying local foods besides the fact that they are more nutritious for your body. Here are the top reasons why you should shop at your local farmers market or see if the area you live in has a market to go:
1. Food is simply fresher
Ever bit into a fresh apple after picking it at an apple farm? Or picked fresh berries at the farm and eaten them right in the field? There is nothing, I mean NOTHING better than food that was grown and picked fresh from the vine. Food bought at the farmers market is 1,000s of miles fresher than what you buy at the grocery store. They were grown nearby, likely picked the day before or the morning of, and full of crisp, full-bodied flavor. Oftentimes if you aren’t a big fan of say, vegetables, if you try a vegetable fresh from your local farm you may just fall in love because it just simply tastes better. Most of the foods sold in the supermarkets come from California, Mexico, or other places miles and miles away, because not all foods are always in season. Farmers Markets feature foods that are in season, aka the freshest you can get.
2. Support the farming industry and your local economy
Farmers are the future of our food system. After the industrialization period and the decrease in family farms in the nation, most Americans don’t realize that no farms=no food. Farmers are some of the absolute most hardworking people I’ve ever met. They never have a day off, and work in any weather condition. We don’t want our future food system to rely on other countries, antibiotic and GMO-food, slaughter houses, and fields full of corn, soy, and wheat to manufacture into high fructose corn syrup, sugary cereals, and “fake” food. We need real farmers to grow real fruits and vegetables, so that we have better access to healthy food. This preserves the genetic diversity of food, and keeps real food on the frontline. Also, buying local foods helps keep money in your local economy. Support farming families, demand more farmers to grow healthy food, and keep your local economy healthy.
3. Better for the environment
Think of all the gas emissions, labor, and fuel it takes to bring pounds and pounds of food from 1,000s of miles away to your nearby neighborhood. Times that by the millions of supermarkets all over the nation. This is how most of the food gets to your grocery store. By taking out the middlemen and the risk for contamination, rotting, pests, etc that could get to your food while its traveling such a far way, locally grown foods simply don’t have to travel early as far and help protect the environment. You’re not only helping yourself by putting the most nutritious food into your body, your helping the environment by reducing the emissions it travel food for so many miles to where it needs to go.
4. Opportunity to teach your family/kids about where food comes from
These days, some kids don’t know where there foods truly comes from. They think everything comes in a package and originates in a can or just comes from the grocery store. They don’t know HOW the food gets there or where it came from. By showing kids that you can pull a fresh carrot straight from the ground and eat it, is truly magical. Teaching the next generation where food actually comes from is IMPERATIVE to keeping our food system healthy and keeping farmers farming, which produces the food our food system needs most. Our population is only going to get exponentially greater, and we will need all the knowledge about nutrition and food we can get to keep feeding our population in the healthiest way we can; with REAL food.
5. Learn which foods are in season
Different foods can only be grown in various seasons. Ever wonder why berries are so dang expensive in the winter? It’s because they cannot be grown in that season and have to be shipped from much warmer climate countries to be sold. By shopping at a farmers market, you have access to all foods that are currently in season. This gives you variety each season, and helps teach you which foods are in season when. That way when you do shop at the grocery store, you can be educated to buy more foods in season, helping you save money (foods in season are cheaper!) and the foods will taste fresher.
6. Nutrient-dense foods…the healthiest foods you could buy!
Can you grow a Cheetoh on a farm? Um, no. The healthiest foods are the ones that are grown on a farm, not manufactured in a lab. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meats, dairy with no additives, THESE are the types of foods you get from farms and THESE are the healthiest foods for us! It really is simple. Shop at farmers markets and receive the benefits of real nutrition from wholesome foods straight from the earth. Fresh produce are the foods that have the most vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and properties that stave off cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many more diseases. By eating a diet rich in plant-based foods, you can lengthen your estimated life span by years.
7. Get out of your comfort zone and try new foods
Farmers markets sell foods that have not been processed. Fresh fruits and vegetables. This will teach you to try new foods you may not be familiar with, experiment in the kitchen, and learn how to process foods on your own! AKA instead of buying already chopped pineapple, you can purchase the whole raw pineapple, and learn how to cut it yourself. In result, you’ll learn more skills in the kitchen and eat fresher foods. Especially if you join a CSA and get a monthly local farm box, you will get whatever foods are fresh and in season in that box, forcing you to try a new food you may not have tried before. Learn new recipes, try new fruits and vegetables, and get outside your comfort zone!
8. Access to grass-fed meats (leaner and more omega 3s!)
Family farms have wide pastures that allow their cattle to roam and munch on fresh grass, chicken houses that don’t cram 1,000s of chickens in small places, and treat their animals in an ethical manner. Because of this, the animals are leaner, contain more omega-3s, and live happier, healthier lives. This leads to better-for-you meat and dairy, that is beneficial to our bodies. No crazy antibiotics are added, and you know the meat was produced the right way. Support family farms with grass-fed meats for healthier food and for the opposition of industrial farming practices (eek). Also, omega 3s are helpful in lowering your total cholesterol, and keeping your brain strong. Grass-fed meats have much higher levels of these! Not only this, but the meats are leaner. Less unhealthy fat, which is much better for your heart.
9. Many farmers use organic farming practices
Being “certified organic” is extremely expensive. It costs a buttload to get certified and maintain certification over the years. Oftentimes when farmers don’t want to pay to become certified organic, they still may use organic farming practices just without that “label”. Organic farming practices utilize pesticide and chemical-free ways of farming. This leads to fewer pesticides on the foods, healthier land, and greater biodiversity. Organic farming practices also are a no-no for GMOs. GMOs=genetically modified organisms, and with organic farming practices these are NOT allowed. So even if a farmer does not sell “certified organic” produce, this doesn’t mean that they may not be more “organic” than some foods you may get at the grocery store..
10. More demand for healthy, local foods = lower prices in the future, more access to healthy foods
The more consumers shop at farmers markets, the higher the demand will be for healthy food. When communities see that people want access to fresh, healthy foods, the supply will increase, leading to lowered food prices. Live in a food desert? Write to your mayor saying you are interested in having a farmers market and want better access to healthy food. Once more communities get farmers markets, the bigger the demand, and the bigger the real food will spread all over. Eat real food, support real food, demand REAL FOOD FOR ALL! 🙂