7 Reasons to Shop at the Farmer’s Market

2015-03-08 farmer's market

Find your local farmer’s market through Local Harvest.

I’m a huge proponent of shopping at the farmer’s market. Here’s why:

1. The FDA just approved GMO apples and potatoes

Silly Mother Nature. She designed apples that turn brown or bruise and potatoes that develop spots—food that rots. Thank goodness agribusiness has come to the rescue. (No hubris there…) After all, who has time to deal with apples that brown? As my local paper, the San Jose Mercury News explains:

Okanagan, based in British Columbia, is trying to make apples a more convenient snack with its non-browning version. The company says bagged apples wouldn’t have to be washed in antioxidants like they are now, a process that can affect taste. […] ‘We know that in a convenience-driven world, a whole apple is too big of a commitment,’ Carter [Okanagan company founder] said.

If you find a whole apple too big of a commitment, you need to examine your life.

When you shop at the farmer’s market, you’ll find all sorts of locally grown, delicious organic, real food. Organic food cannot contain GMOs. If you don’t know why you would want to avoid GMOs, read this article by Maria Rodale, granddaughter of J.I. Rodale, a pioneer of organic agriculture.

2. Produce has natural, biodegradable packaging

When I went plastic-free in 2011, I quickly realized I could no longer buy processed food-like products at the supermarket, almost all of which arrive at the store enshrouded in plastic packaging, which never breaks down. At that time, I began shopping at the farmer’s market religiously.

A random aisle at Safeway
A random display at Safeway; I feel sorry for people who have to eat this and for those who think they have to eat this 🙁
3. Your community benefits

According to IndieBound, when you spend $100 at a local, independent business, $68 of that money stays in your community. If you shop at a chain, only $43 remains. That extra $25 creates jobs, pays for services and strengthens neighborhoods where you live. And of course, when you shop local, your food travels fewer miles, requires less packaging and lowers your carbon footprint.

4. You help reduce food waste

Most supermarkets refuse to carry cosmetically challenged fruits and vegetables, which means many of them end up rotting in landfill where they release methane gas, a green-house gas more potent than CO2. That ugly produce accounts in part for the 40 percent of food wasted in the US. At the farmer’s market, the sizes and shapes of food vary. And some vendors, like one of my favorites, Prevedelli Farms, offer a discount for not-so-pretty—yet organic—produce.

not so pretties
These may look flawed but they taste delicious and as you can see from the box on the left, they sell!
5. You generally won’t buy more than you need 

I ride my basket-covered bike to the farmer’s market and can safely manage to transport about three bags’ worth of goodies home. That limit is probably a good thing. I buy what I need and eat what I buy. I don’t wheel around an SUV-sized shopping cart that cries out for the 2-for-1 deals on ice cream and frozen pizza. At the farmer’s market, you also avoid the impulse checkout candy at a 5-year old’s eye level.

6. Inexpensive therapy

Not that I would know, but therapy where I live costs around $200 an hour. If I wake up grumpy on Sunday morning—the only day my market operates—grumbling about how I want to sleep in for once and why can’t someone else do the food shopping and I’m going to be a man in my next life, a trip to the market always snaps me out of it. The food looks spectacular, the flowers smell wonderful, the vendors know me (that could be due to the homemade cloth produce bags, the jars and the containers though…).

blue irises

7. The taste

Unless you grow your own, you cannot find food that tastes better than what your local farmer’s market offers. As Dan Barber said at a recent lecture I had the good fortune to attend, the most ethical food also tastes the most delicious. And how could it not? A pesticide-sprayed strawberry grown in a giant monoculture cannot compete with a strawberry grown on a small, diverse, organic farm. Like food made with love, food grown with love tastes best.

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32 Comment

  1. Oh and three more reasons: 1. You save family farms! Many of the farmers I’ve spoken to at the farmer’s markets have told me they were going out of business – having to sell at wholesale prices, meeting stringent requirements of supermarkets (zucchinis had to be only so many inches – those that were too long or too short were considered waste), competing with foreign agribusiness.
    2. You discover many new kinds of produce. You get to sample kohlrabi or try golden turnips or peppercress (too spicy for me!) and discover more than 20 varieties of apples and different varieties of spinach. Who knew I’d like rutabaga so much?
    3. Your kids to eat many more fruits and vegetables. When kids try the samples at the market and talk to the farmers and see the DIVERSITY of food, they expand their palates and are more open to eating this tasty produce. Yes, little Sophia, there’s more to eat than chicken nuggets.

    1. Those are all great reasons too. I would rather support my family farmers than big box stores. I have to try kohlrabi next week. I saw some beautiful purple ones but wasn’t sure what I would do with them. And I think kids who go appreciate real food more. How can you eat the other stuff after you’ve tasted fresh produce from the farmer’s market?

  2. The same or similar reasons apply to joining a CSA! 🙂 The CSA I’m a member of (Green Thumb CSA – Huntington) is set up like a farmer’s market so I get the same happy feeling there that I do at my local greenmarket.

    1. You’re right, Suzanne and I meant to add something about CSAs in here too. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  3. France has a while PR campaign in support of blemished produce. The ads are hysterical and the motive is wonderful.

    1. Oh I’ve seen one of those. It’s a great campaign and I gather a big success too.

  4. Awesome awesome post!!! You nailed it! I’ve been meaning to a post about food shopping and I’ll definitely link to this one! 🙂

  5. Great post, thanks for sharing! Everyone needs to read this, then get out there and support their local community!

    1. Thanks for that and for the reblog 🙂

  6. Reblogged this on The Cast Iron Pan and commented:
    Great little read here folks.

    1. Thanks so much for the reblog 😀

  7. All excellent reasons for shopping at a local farmer’s market. I love visiting the farmer’s market, even when I’m on holiday. They are such joyous and grounding places. When Mr M and I were on honeymoon in Turin years ago, we spent a most enjoyable morning at the Turin farmer’s market, admiring fresh food with all our senses. Neither my husband or I speak Italian, but between Latin, French, English and the universal language of food we managed to converse with farmers passionate about their produce. What a contrast to the view that a “whole apple is too much of a commitment!”

    1. Ooooh that sounds like so much fun. My boss does that too. When she travels (which is often), she hits the local farmer’s markets. Even the small city I grew up in has a wonderful farmer’s market in the summer ad we shop there when we visit. You have given me a great idea for the summer. I plan to go up to Napa with the kids and I’ll have to find out when and where the market is. That would be a good one. Thank you 🙂

      That line about the difficulty of committing to an apple was such a gift. I couldn’t make up anything that good…

  8. we love going to our local farmers market to support local producers.

    1. Yup. We have to make sure they stay in business.

  9. I was rather disturbed with the invention of the brown-free apples. Are we such consumer-wussies or food prep.-wussies??

    Farmers’ markets have been part of my life here and there. They came back into my life when I met my partner: who had a full-time career in oil industry but also was a part-time cattle farmer with his own plot on weekends. Wherever we go cycle-touring, we try to visit the local farmer’s markets. You can learn a lot about the local foods, produce –culturally.
    https://thirdwavecyclingblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/growing-up-and-cycling-through-the-years-to-farmers%e2%80%99-markets-home-and-abroad/

    1. If Big Food has rendered us incapable of eating or slicing up a whole apple, I don’t have much hope…But SO many people refuse to eat GMOs, so that’s a good sign. I won’t give up just yet 😉

      Thanks for the link. That’s a great post. You really are a farmer’s market aficionado. I love the idea of visiting the local farmer’s market in whatever city you’re touring, especially on a bike.

  10. You’re so right about “inexpensive therapy”! Farmers Market is my Sunday morning ritual; a great way to ground myself for the week ahead, and connect with what I am eating at its source.

    1. Thank you, Karen. I went this morning and bought all sorts of good stuff for the week. It’s a ritual for me too and I hate to miss it.

  11. I do shop at our local market from local growers and don’t mind paying bit more for my veggies. Variety is limited this time of year though so I do supplement with stuff from supermarket and it never ceases to amaze me how inexpensive things that have been shipped halfway across the world are. It means fewer people use the local farmers markets so around these parts there is not a huge demand for them. Shame folk don’t see how buying these cheaper imports all the time is actually false economy….. Great post!

    1. Thanks so much 🙂 I’m lucky I can shop year round in California. One of the markets near me does shut down over winter but not the one I go to. I agree with you on the false economy. In the long run, we’re harming ourselves importing so much cheap, bad food (burning more fossil fuels, eating less nutritious food, not supporting our local communities, etc., etc.). A friend recently told me she bought something at the grocery store, watercress or another green veggie, I forget which exactly…but she said it was so cheap and from so far away, she wondered how much money the farmer had made. Probably a pittance!

  12. Convenience will be the death of us yet. *sigh* Thx for these timely reminders!!!

    1. Thanks, it’s true. We have to get our act together. We keep looking for techno fixes to solve our troubles like how to eat an apple: GMO apples that don’t brown vs. eating a whole apple in one sitting. It’s just bizarre! But people are fed up!…well more like…But some people are fed up!

  13. Wow… Soooo glad I found your blog… I love it… Will help me with dieting motivation..

    1. Thank you! Good luck with your diet 🙂

  14. Reblogged this on Minimalists Next Door and commented:
    Approximately 70% of us live within 10 miles of a Farmers’ Market. In case you need a reason to shop there, here are 7 from The Zero Waste Chef. If you want to locate markets near you, visit https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets. Happy reading & happy eating!

    1. Thank you for the reblog 🙂

  15. That fact that I can avoid impulse purchases is a great benefit!

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