Cultivating Good Stewardship in Farmers’ Markets

Of all of summer’s pleasures, few can top that early morning trip to the farmers’ market. And nothing can top the farmers’ market for health, nutrition, freshness and taste. This year, August 7 to 13 is National Farmers’ Market Week. Let’s celebrate by counting all the great reasons to grab a reusable cloth bag and head to the market. Nutrition is high on the list. Fresh produce that makes its way from the field to the table in short order means more vitamins and minerals for your family. And of course, freshness means better taste, the tastiest produce of the year. Farmers’ markets are said to promote child health and reduce childhood obesity by increasing children’s access to affordable and convenient fruits and vegetables. And farmers’ markets increasingly support anti-hunger initiatives through donations of unsold food to feeding programs for those in need. There are also great ecological reasons to shop the farmers’ market. Today, food at the grocery averages about 1,500 miles to get from the producer to your plate. Transportation of food contributes to our carbon footprint in a huge way. Buying from the producer in your local area cuts down on transportation drastically. Moreover, these local producers play a key role in developing regional foodsheds which also benefits the environment. Here’s something else: sometimes we forget about the cycles of growth and production when we visit a supermarket in snowy February to buy an eggplant. The farmers’ market restores your connection to the natural cycles in your area. You will also be surprised by the variety of produce at the market. Maybe you’ll try a vegetable you’ve never tasted before. And the meat and eggs you purchase are produced in environments that treat animals humanely. And let’s face it: what is more energizing than walking through our local market, meeting area farmers, greeting your neighbors, maybe picking up a locally grown bouquet of flowers or a fresh muffin and feeling like you are part of a vibrant community. Farmers’ markets are as old and as American as apple pie. And the apple in that pie is locally sourced, higher in nutrition and great for small business. Make the farmers’ market a weekly summer adventure and be a steward of good food, nutrition, health and the community.