Unless you’ve been living in a remote cabin in the woods with no access to media of any kind, you know that we’re in the midst of a health crisis and a climate crisis. One thing you can do that will have a positive impact on both of these conditions is shopping at your local farmers market. Are you a regular market shopper? If not, here are my top 5 reasons to shop at farmers markets:

 

Everything is fresher, more nutritious and tastes better

Produce you buy at the grocery store has often travelled hundreds, or even thousands of kilometers in refrigerated transport and is several days old by the time it reaches your stores shelves. Produce destined for grocery store shelves is often picked before it is fully mature, and ripened by artificial means, which impacts the flavour and texture of the produce. Farmers market produce, on the other hand, is picked at the peak of its ripeness, so you can be sure of maximum nutritional value and optimal flavour. Stock up on in-season fruits and vegetables from the farmers market in the summer months and freeze for use during the colder months. In the winter explore less familiar vegetables such as parsley root and celeriac.

 

Variety

When you shop the farmers market, you’re apt to have choices between several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, kale, or radishes in the summer, and carrots, potatoes, beets and root vegetables in the fall and winter. When you shop at the grocery store, you’ll more likely find one variety of each, and that is whatever variety produces the highest yield, since industrial farms value monocropping and high yield, not flavour and nutritional content.

 

Non-GMO and spray free

Industrial farms are being run by giant corporations whose priorities are profit and efficiency rather than quality and nutritional value. Part of the efficiency philosophy means monocropping whereby one crop is grown repeatedly, sometimes several crop yields per season, on the same plot of land. This results in depletion of nutrients, increase in pests, and increased use of industrial pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. When you shop at the farmers market you can get to know your farmers and ask them about their growing practices, and chances are you’ll learn that most of the farmers are rotating their crops and engaging in practices to maximize retention of nutrients in the soil. Healthy soil means less need for chemicals.

 

 

Better for the environment

Produce being transported hundreds, or thousands of kilometers is also leaving a significant carbon footprint due to emissions, air pollution and fuel consumption. Farmer’s market goods are produced and transported from a local farm to the market, significantly reducing fossil fuels and the carbon footprint. Additionally, small farms are typically processing their crops manually, not with the large industrial machines that are used in factory farms.

 

Farmer Emily TeBogt from TeBogt’s Produce and Meat, selling at the Wolfville Farmers Market.

Community building

Farmers markets are a wonderful place to socialize, get to know neighbours and meet local farmers and vendors. The people selling at the market are your neighbours. They live in and care about the community and enjoy creating and building relationships with the people who buy their products.

If you want to get to know your famers and their farm practices, Meghan Telpner, nutritionist, cookbook author and founder of the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, has compiled a list of important questions to ask the farmers at your local market.

Courtney and Adam at Olde Furrow Farm provide you with a crash course in farm lingo to prepare you for your conversations with market farmers.

If you believe in all of the reasons to shop at farmers markets but are just not able to get to the local farmers markets, find out if your community has an online farmers market like this service provided by WFM2Go.