Food on sale at local farmers markets is fresh and you’ll taste the real flavor as it’s intended to taste. Imagine fruits and vegetables that have ripened in the field, been picked during market week, and transported directly to you just days out of the field. Flowers by the flat locally produced from seed to harvest, all of seasonal variety, will add color to your home for the months ahead.
No long-term storage taste or color, nor additives to keep colors bright, but instead pesticide free sustainable grown produce brought from field to patron by the grower. Now, this is the local farmers market.
My wife and I visit the Piedmont Triad Farmers’ Market in Greensboro, North Carolina several times each month. Much of our produce comes from our frequent trips. We enjoy crafted salsa, pickles, chow-chow and varied canned preserves sold at our market. Of course, varieties of meat regionally raised and processed are available year around, too.
Beyond the genuine, unmasked taste and flavor, there are other reasons to shop local sustainable food markets. One is the experience involved in market day.
We went to the farmers market this morning and to our surprise discovered acres of wood carvings, sculptures and chainsaw art happening on the spot. This event was a Breast Cancer Awareness fair including North Carolina musical talent, wood artist from around the area, and farm equipment featured for sale – a true eclectic experience for sure.
It’s not possible to find this type atmosphere at any other event I’ve seen. Ambiance, alone, is a great reason to visit the outdoor market. I checked the weather on the drive over and found the temperature reading 52 degrees Fahrenheit, with light breeze and clear blue sky – just about perfect for market morning.
Once we were outside the car, the air was fresh and crisp, enhancing the smells of produce, smoked meats, fried pies, early morning baked breads and locally roasted coffees. What better way to enjoy the season – spring, summer, fall, or even winter!
Farmer markets are a great way to support the local economy at its root source – no pun intended. Whether crop farmer, rancher, fruit grower, or horticulturist, we’re not talking “get rich quick” jobs here. From personal experience with family and friends, I can tell you local agriculture is a “get rich never” proposition. Often, the sales at local markets keep many of these folks on their family farms.
Local agriculture is best done from the heart with passion. The norm is long hours, at times unbelievable hardship, and moderate financial return. Every dollar spent at local markets supports families who have a serious commitment to sustainable agriculture. When you take home seasonal locally grown food for your family, some of the passion becomes reciprocal.
Consider, too, this is a direct involvement with protecting the environment and valuing natural resources. Less trash is one positive outcome of fresh markets because family farmers have little need of shipping boxes, crates, and other packing materials, since transportation from field to market is short. Along with burning less fuel, refrigeration needs are minimal, and little pollution goes into the environment.
Probably my favorite reason for endorsing local fresh markets is the nourishment value in the food and the experience itself. Beyond the wholesomeness of crops, produce and meats free from pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, you’ll find an aesthetic value gained from being outdoors at an occasion with down-to-earth people, proud of the benefits from their labors.
I am also a big fan of heirloom variety produce and flowers. The spice and variety met in short order this morning reminded me that generations ago sustainable living was simply normal living. Today, we picked through baskets and crates of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, potatoes, mushrooms, and so many others. There were several varieties of wild grapes, and I used to pick one particular type with my grandfather as a kid more decades ago than I care to recall. You sort through, smell and feel the texture of things at the market; the involvement becomes sensory.
Sustainable markets encourage communal active engagement. You talk to the local grower’s about their choice of crop variety, how they grow their product, and when it’s picked. By doing so, you come to know the real source of your food and how it got to you. A one time trip to market just for this direct contact with the local food source is ample reason for a visit.
Don’t be surprised to find the grower’s you visit with were in the field until evening the previous day getting product ready for market. And for goodness sake, don’t expect the grower to wash the fruit and vegetables. You get the at home experience of rubbing fresh soil off for your own field to table experience.
Local farmers markets are free. There are no tickets sold for entry, no membership requirements or minimum purchases, no strings attached. I believe they’re one of the truest forms of free enterprise left in America. Find your local market for a visit even if you have to drive some distance. You’ll have a great time.