This week, August 2 through 8, 2009, marks National Farmers’ Market Week, a week that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated to encourage consumers to visit their local farmers’ market.
This year the USDA in cooperation with the Farmers Market Coalition, http://www.farmersmarketcoalition.org/ launched a special “Markets are Up!” campaign to “help farmers markets and farmers markets associations communicate the vital role that these markets play in improving consumer health, local communities, and economies.” They have put together resources and materials that you will find at many local farmers’ markets for the occasion.
Farmers’ markets are one of the easiest ways to not only buy locally, but to support the economic viability of our farmers and to help individuals eat more healthfully.
The USDA estimates that there are now 4,900 farmers’ markets throughout the United States and over 3 million consumers shop there, buying the fresh fruits and vegetables grown by the 60,000 farmers who sell there. The USDA estimates that these markets generate more than one billion dollars in consumer spending each year.
If you haven’t shopped at a farmers’ market yet, you might be wondering what the big deal is. The biggest benefit to shopping at a farmers’ market is that you get the freshest produce available. Often, farmers pick their fruit or vegetables just a day, or even hours, before the market. Not only does this make the produce taste better, it is better for you because it does not lose any vitamins or minerals sitting in a warehouse or traveling thousands of miles.
You will also find dozens of different fruit and vegetable varieties at a single market, compared to the two or three varieties typically found at most grocery stores.
Another great thing about a local market is that it serves as a community-gathering place, where you can meet your neighbors and friends to catch up and they often feature local entertainment and artists.
And, don’t forget to vote for your favorite local farmers’ market in the Care2.com and LocalHarvest.org “Love Your Farmers’ Market” contest, http://www.care2.com/farmersmarket/.
Judi G. is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.