Have you ever strolled through your local grocery store or prepared your favorite healthy meal and wondered where your fruits and vegetables were produced? Knowing where your food comes from is a big topic these days – especially since we’re cautious about if our food is natural, or enhanced with chemicals. According to dirt-to-dinner.com, over 90% of imported fruits and vegetables come from Mexico, Central America, and South America allowing Americans to enjoy many fresh produce items year-round. Local fruits and vegetables come from all over the United States, but California leads production by a huge margin. So for those of us lucky enough to live near the 8,600 plus farmers markets spread across the country, summer is an amazing time to hit one up. In addition to the dog-and-people-watching opportunities, it’s a chance to support local farmers and eat the freshest, nutrient-packed produce money can buy. Are you shopping at your local farmer’s market? If not, here are my top 4 reasons why you should.
1. You will have access to fresh produce that is grown in your local area.
A farmer’s market is a retail marketplace where farmers sell their agricultural products directly to consumers. You can purchase fruits and vegetables that are fresh, local, and cheap. There are so many benefits to eating produce when it is at its peak of freshness. After being harvested, fruits and vegetables gradually lose their nutritional value over time. If you are unable to grow fruit yourself, this is your next best option to get the most nutrition from the produce you eat.
2. This is the perfect opportunity to discover new fruits and vegetables.
There is an extensive array of produce accessible at farmer's markets that may not be available at ordinary grocery stores. You can learn which fruits and vegetables are in season, and how even to begin your own garden. Local farmers and food experts can share priceless information and advice concerning nutrition and agriculture.
Have you ever seen watermelon that has yellow flesh, instead of red? The Santa Barbara Farmer's Market offers both varieties of watermelon!
3. You can incorporate this as a new tradition.
Visiting your local farmer's market can become a new tradition that you share with your friends and family. You can socialize with farmers and other members of your local community, too. Typically, farmer's markets are held during the weekend, so this is the perfect opportunity to incorporate something new into your routine.
4. You will support local businesses.
Farmer's markets are sustained by local communities. It is very difficult for local farmers to compete with large grocery supermarket chains. With your support, these local businesses can continue to thrive. As a consumer, you can compare the price, taste, and variety of produce available at the farmers market with local grocery stores to see what works best for you.
Before visiting your local farmers market, make sure that it is verified by local agencies. The USDA has a helpful tool called the National Farmers Market Directory that can be used to find nearby farmer's markets. If you are wondering where your nearest market is, click here.
Have you ever shopped at a farmer's market? Let us know below.