Farmers’ markets are a great way to join Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. My small city of Kelowna, British Columbia has the largest farmers’ market in the province. That is a tribute to Bob Callioux, the market manager who works tirelessly to make sure the integrity of the market is maintained and that something exciting is happening throughout the year. It is also a tribute to the Okanagan Valley’s small farms and to the growing number of consumers demanding high-quality, local food.
We can all support farmers’ markets. Here are five reasons to head to yours:
Supermarket produce sections look bountiful because of the mounds of colorful produce. Sadly, they represent a tiny and shrinking array of all the varieties of peppers, tomatoes, lettuce and potatoes that have disappeared from our farms.
Mother Nature does not appreciate monocropping and responds with things like decreasing yields, superweeds and nutrient-stripped soil. Buy from the growers who offer yellow carrots, purple potatoes and tiger-striped tomatoes. They are the keepers of biodiversity. Variety is what protects the food supply when drought, climate shifts, insects or torrential rains destroy crops.
Produce at your farmers’ market was picked that morning or the day before. It has not spent days in refrigerated trucks, warehouses and grocery bins. It was grown for local conditions, not for its ability to ripen at the same time, be shipped without damage for thousands of miles and meet exact size and color standards.
A 2009 study published in HortScience tracked the decline in nutrients in fruits and vegetables in the U.S. and U.K. The results were dismal. The nutritional content of our food has been on a steady downward trend for 50 years.
If you buy meat, cheese or eggs at the farmers’ market, you can meet the farmers and ask about their farming practices. Unlike the caged hens, sows kept in gestation pens, or cows fed grains that are a poor fit for their digestive system, the animals whose gifts are sold at the market were generally humanely treated by people who knew and respected them.
Food is the fuel our bodies need. Better quality food means better health.
Photo credit: Cathryn Wellner
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