What is a farmers market and why is it such a buzzword? The simple answer is that a farmers market is a gathering which brings farmers and local people together. Economically speaking, you might describe it as a direct purchasing model in which the consumer pays the producer directly rather than going through third party, such as a grocery store or distributor.
In fact, a farmers market is multiple things: a community building tradition, a method to have healthy and fresh food, a way to connect patrons with their farmers, a chance to lessen the environmental strain of food travel, and a way to avoid allocating more money into large corporations. All factors combined, the impact of the farmers market growth and trends is widespread—
- The environmental impact is understated: most conventional produce found in the grocery store travels 1500 miles to arrive across the country, but farmers selling at a local market usually live within a short drive. Thus, buying local produce prevents additional fossil fuel emissions, ultimately increasing quality of air. Additionally, local farmers tend to use less plastic packaging, which means less overall waste.
- Most local and small-scale farmers utilize organic practices, preserving your local waterways and soil health. Pesticides can seep into the water system, negatively affecting drinking water, lakes, and rivers. These pesticides also kill friendly soil bacteria, which have biological processes contributing to nutrient levels of soil. So, buying from an organic producer (whether certified or in practice) can add to your health and preserve immediate community health.
- Direct purchasing benefits the vendors at a farmers market. Most of the produce found at the grocery store is a wholesale purchase from a large company that underpays its workers to harvest. Buying from a farmers market, however, gives that small-scale farmer a true business and reliable source of income. Some local farmers also contribute to the economy by hiring fairly-paid help during the season.
- Community life increases through a vibrant market. The market becomes a social hub and weekly event and special themes attract more energy and life. Neighbors become engaged with each other. A current trend at farmers markets is children’s events, especially to empower kids in making healthy choices and teach children about how produce is grown.
- Your favorite benefit of purchasing at a market could be having produce at peak freshness. Farmers often pick their produce hours before the market, offering the optimal flavor profile and nutrition. You can also save money at the market, as many producer’s prices are reasonable and in bundles.
For all these reasons, BLEND is such an advocate for farmers markets that we have decided to sponsor the KNSI Farmers Market Calendar available through Leighton Broadcasting. Text MARKET to 656-WILD (320-656-9453) and get the link to find your local market and time. Stop by and support your local farmers!