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Monday
Apr162012

Farmers' Market Challenge

Written by Anika Christ, Senior Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

‘Tis the season for farmers’ markets.  Spring is time for many of them to start reopening, but are you a frequent shopper?   Although their popularity is increasing, the average American still purchases most of their food from a supermarket and in a highly processed form.  Sure, supermarkets are super-convenient, but there are so many more benefits to purchasing your food locally, including healthier and tastier food! 

So what’s the challenge?  What if you could only purchase food from the farmers’ markets?  Imagine grocery shopping free of misleading marketing, with minimal packaging or processing of your food and a plethora of food knowledge just waiting for you to call on.  Just a couple generations ago, this is how our people got their food.  This week, challenge yourself to shop locally. If not for all of your food, try your hardest to purchase most of your everyday foods from the farm.  If you are just getting your feet wet with local shopping, below are some inspirational Dos and Don’ts for farmers’ markets that will hopefully inspire and remind you “why” we need to support our farmers.

DO support your environment!  By providing food locally and not using food packaging, farmers reduce pollution from vehicles and the use of fossil fuels—which are needed for conventional food processing and are harmful to the environment.  This generally also reduces the cost of food for consumers and decreases use of pesticides and herbicides if organic farming practices are used. 

DON’T forget to bring the family!  This is not only a great learning opportunity for you, but also a great way to show kids what real food is and where it comes from.  The average American child has no clue what plants their everyday foods come from.  Take this opportunity to show them, and optimize it by letting them choose a new food to take home or how to pick the best produce from the batch.

DO get to know the farmer!  Farmers’ markets create an intimate and personal environment for you to ask questions, and there is nothing better than personally meeting and acknowledging the hand that feeds you.  A farmer can tell you exactly how the food was grown or raised versus having to search and find ingredients on labels at the supermarket.  Don’t forget to ask them tips on how to prepare and use the food in recipes and meals.

DON’T forget your own bag!  Shopping local is all about supporting a sustainable product.  Most of the foods there won’t have any packaging and you won’t be asked “paper or plastic.”  Bring a sturdy, reusable bag or two with you to carry all your goodies home.

DO appreciate fewer food miles!  The average food item travels THOUSANDS of miles before it gets to your supermarket, often losing tons of nutritional value and often picked from the ground way too soon to avoid spoiling before it gets there.  Local food is picked at its perfect ripening so you can enjoy its best taste and highest nutritional value. 

DON’T forget your cash!  Farmers are underpaid and farmland acres continue to decrease each and every year, often being sold for real estate.  By purchasing from local farmers, you are choosing to not only put money back in your community, but also provide them with money to hold onto their food-producing land.  Did you know that out of every dollar spent at the supermarket, maybe a dime or two goes back to the initial farmer due to middlemen and food manufacturers?  Buy from them directly and you’ll ensure that most of that dollar will go directly to the man or woman that worked hard to feed your belly.

What’s your favorite thing about farmers’ markets?  Share below and check out http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/  to find a farmers’ market near you!

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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Reader Comments (2)

Since moving to Memphis my husband and I have been buying ALL of our meat and produce at farmers markets - we have vowed not to buy anymore produce at a a large chain grocery store because we realized they have NO flavor - we love on,y eating things that are grown regionally and in season and it is our small way of supporting local businesses which is something else we want to do whenever possible - and do you know what we realized...........we are spending less in the long run because we eat everything - nothing spoils and gets thrown away!

April 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Farmers' markets are the way to go! I live in a suburb of Detroit and every Saturday morning you can find me at Eastern Market downtown. Dozens of local farmers are there showing off and selling beautiful produce. One more great thing about FMs is that they are incredibly cheap! I've gotten big beautiful bell peppers for 50c each, quarts of juicy blackberries for 2 bucks, and fresh local sweet corn 5 for $5!

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChuck D

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