(Want articles like this via email? Here’s the sign up)
If you live in the US, it’s likely there’s a farmer’s market nearby. According to the Farmer’s Market Coalition and the USDA, there are about 8,600 farmer’s markets throughout the country. And the trend is growing! Farmer’s markets don’t just increase access to fresh, local food; they also create jobs and teach communities where their food comes from.
To celebrate National Farmer’s Market Week this August 6-12, here are all the reasons shopping at a farmer’s market once or twice per week can significantly improve your health and happiness.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- 6 reasons that shopping at the farmer’s market is better for your health
- Other options if there’s not a farmer’s market near you
1. Access to better quality food
In general, farmer’s markets provide regular access to fresher, healthier food than most grocery stores. And access to fresh fruits and veggies is a huge contributing factor when it comes to community health and wellbeing. One study even associates proximity to farmer’s markets with a lower body mass index (BMI) among young people, and proximity to fast food with higher BMIs.
2. Eating locally is better for you
The nutrient density of produce begins to decline the minute it’s harvested.In North America, the average piece of produce stays in transit for five days, traveling up to 6,000 miles from places like Mexico and Chile. Produce then sits on grocery store shelves for up to 3-4 days before you purchase it. That means your fruits and veggies are up to 40% less nutrient dense by the time you eat them, as opposed to when it’s fresh. Shop farm to table to get the most nutrients from your food.
3. Greater food transparency
Buying locally from smaller vendors gives you the opportunity to ask questions and gain insight into how your food was grown and harvested. More information means that you can make smart buying decisions for you and your family.
4. Food tastes better when it’s fresh!
If you’ve never had a tomato fresh off the vine, then you’ve never truly eaten a tomato. Just like nutrient density, food flavors will degrade over time. Eat fresh to truly taste all the nuances of your food.
Farmer’s markets bring people of different race, class, age, and lifestyle together more than other shopping experiences. They also offer more opportunity for social interactions. Surveys of Los Angeles County farmer’s market shoppers show that 55% feel that the market increases community and connection.
6. Supporting your local economy
Farmer’s markets are the perfect opportunity to vote with your dollar. Chances are, the money for every peach and pea you purchase goes back into small, local businesses instead of large corporations. One statistic also found that farmer’s markets create an average of 13 full-time jobs for every $1 million in revenue earned.
Taking a leisurely trip to the farmer’s market once or twice a week isn’t realistic for everyone. Plus, many markets are seasonal, leaving you with no option but to shop at the grocery store during winter months.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can support local and/or sustainable growers. Here are a few resources to make eating locally more realistic for you:
- Join a CSA. CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture.” These are usually subscription models that match consumers with local farms to deliver fresh, seasonal produce. Search for CSAs in your area with organizations like Local Harvest and the USDA.
- Get pastured meat delivered. Companies like Butcher Box and US Wellness Meats are making it easier than ever to get sustainably-, pasture-raised meat delivered straight to your door. This is the perfect option for families who can’t find affordable, high-quality meat in their area.
- Check out Eatwild.com. Can’t find a farmer’s market near you? Check out Eatwild.com’s state-by-state directory of local farms that sell directly to consumers.
- Download the Real Food App. And yes, you can still shop at the grocery store. Try the Real Food App, which vets thousands of food products for you. Plus, you’ll find a complete database of locations where you can find the healthiest foods for you and your family.
Health, environmental sustainability, and community are three of our strongest pillars of success here at Natural Force. We know they mean a lot to you, too. Do you already shop at farmer’s markets? We’d love to hear your favorites in the comments below!