Produce at its Finest: The Farmer’s Market
Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Farmers' markets. Whether we were dragged along with our parents when we were five, or you're fresh out of college and looking to save money, we've all likely been to one before. However, most people have never looked at how farmers’ markets impact our communities. These local markets have more benefits than one might first realize. Here are some pros to farmers' markets that you probably haven't noticed before.
Benefit #1: Supports Local Businesses
It seems obvious enough that, yes, farmers' markets support local farms but not to the extent that most people think. Farmers' markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for beginning farmers, giving them the opportunity to start small, test the market, and grow their businesses. For instance, eighty percent of farmers market vendors in Iowa, New York, and California said that farmers' markets offer them a greater business development opportunity than any other possible marketing outlet (American Journal of Alternative Agriculture).
Small-scale farmers also use farmers' markets to gain real-time feedback on new crops and varieties. This can help farmers decide what crop varieties to grow for larger commercial use, as they now have a sense of which varieties are the most popular.
Benefit #2: Affordable and Healthy Food
America is jokingly known for being gluttonous and unhealthy. There's no denying that. But due to how our shopping centers and markets are run, eating healthy can be expensive. That’s where farmers’ markets come in: by buying directly from the producer, you are still able to purchase fresh food at an affordable price. Nutritious food should be available for everyone. But nutritious food is not always available for the millions of American families in low-income neighborhoods, struggling daily to make ends meet.
Luckily for healthy minded Americans, farmers' markets always offer fresh fruits and vegetables that, on average, are cheaper than at your local supermarket. Research has shown that prices for many conventional and organic products were lower at the farmers market than at nearby supermarkets. Unlike supermarkets that tend to stock fruit in bulk, farmers’ markets only sell fruits that are in season, meaning that is when the fruit is at its best.. This allows the produce to the freshest and juiciest it can possibly be: just what you deserve!
Benefit #3: Eco-Friendly
As a result of farmers’ markets only selling locally-grown fruits and veggies, the environmental impact is astonishing. On average, commercially produced food travels over 1,000 miles from the point of production to the retail store. In contrast, most farmers' markets only allow vendors within 200 miles; some have caps on vendor distance as close as 50 miles. Having more locally-grown food can lower carbon emissions for transporting produce across America. This benefit not only helps nearby but world-wide in efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Many farmers also tend to minimize the amount of pollution they create. Most farmers selling at local markets use certified organic practices, reducing the number of synthetic pesticides and chemicals that pollute our soil and water. Selling organically produced items can also bring more money into farmers' pockets, which helps local farms. Markets that sell organic products report more customers per week, more vendors, and more extensive monthly sales.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, farmers' markets have been forced to shut down, leaving farmers without additional income sources while blocking Americans from receiving quality produce that supports local businesses. However, as time passes and restrictions ease across the nation, we hope that pretty soon, we will all be enjoying the fresh produce that only farmers’s markets can provide.