With all the dirt being dug up about some of my favorite health food companies supporting No on Prop. 37, I was starting to feel betrayed. “No, Santa Cruz Organic! Not you too,” I thought, when I first saw the list of companies that turned their backs on the proposition that would allow the labeling of genetically modified foods. “Where am I going to get my blueberry pomegranate juice?”
So I decided to seek refuge at the farmers’ market. And there are definitely many advantages to buying your food at the farmers’ market instead of at a Whole Foods, or a Jimbo’s, or at any other large, corporate health food chain. Here are six of those advantages:
1. Instead of giving your money to large corporations, you’re supporting local farmers and small business owners. Local farmers and small business owners need the money more than large health food chains. A lot of times, small farms and small businesses are just getting their start, and don’t have a lot of financial backing. It’s up to the consumer to decide if they like what they’re selling, and support them so that their business will prosper. I often find that I become attached to the businesses I buy my products from. For instance, I often buy a loaf of sweet bread from a woman who owns a small baking business. I really enjoy the breads she bakes, but I also buy from her because I like this friendly and talkative grandmother who is passionate about what she does and makes everything from scratch. I want to see her succeed.
I’ve learned that farmers and business owners are often kind to their regular customers. The woman who sells mushrooms usually gives me fifty cents to a dollar off, and the man who sells fresh juice gives me $0.50 off mint lemonade.
2. It’s healthier and more sustainable to eat food that is locally grown. Eating food grown in the local area cuts down on the money, energy, and resources needed to ship the food to you. By cutting down on the natural resources used to transport your food to you, you’re doing your part to help the environment.
Next: Health and community advantages
3. It creates an excellent opportunity to communicate with those who grow or create the foods that you eat. It’s important to know what you’re eating. And what better way to find out what’s in your food then being able to talk to the person who grows it and sells it to you? With the grower right there, you can find out if the tomatoes you’re thinking about purchasing are organic or not. And if the farm doesn’t have an organic certification, is it because they couldn’t afford the high price of the organic certification even though they don’t spray any chemicals or pesticides on their produce? You can find out all these intricate details by talking to the grower, which you couldn’t do by shopping at a chain store. Most of the growers and business owners are more than willing to talk to their customers about their product and educate them about any politics regarding sustainable agriculture, Prop. 37, etc.
4. It helps to build community in your city or neighborhood. One of the great things about going to the farmers’ market is that you have the opportunity to talk with like-minded, health-conscious individuals in your community.
5. Fruits and vegetables are fresher, and therefore, taste better. In my opinion, fruits and vegetables at a farmers’ market usually taste fresher and better than those bought at a health food chain.
6. It’s outside. Being outside and getting some exposure to the sun can be of great benefit to your health. (If you have any sensitivities or skin disorders that become aggravated with sun exposure, you’ll have to use your best judgement to determine how much exposure is best for you.) The sun is the greatest source of Vitamin D there is. Vitamin D is great for boosting immunity, supporting healthy bones and skin, and increasing serotonin, therefore reducing the chances of depression.