How You Can Go Local This Growing Season

farmers Market Why to shop local How

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Spring is an exciting time for food lovers. As the days get warmer and longer, and the world around us shifts from gray and bare to green and lush, we eagerly anticipate the opening day of our neighborhood farmers market or CSA (community supported agriculture). For at least half of the year, many of us do our food shopping at our indoor supermarket whose shelves are lined with more than 48,000 different foods and food products. Some of these foods are organic or local, many are conventionally grown and have traveled thousands of miles from farm to supermarket, and most come in packages with a lengthy list of hard-to-decipher ingredients.

The Joy of Farmers Markets

But the farmers market stands in stark contrast to the supermarket. Farmers markets transport us to an outdoor haven filled with an abundance of fresh, local, seasonal food, and an opportunity to connect with our food on a much more personal level. As we navigate the market, we discover which foods are native to our region and what foods we can produce easily in the climate we live. We also gain appreciation for, and enjoy food that is in season, despite the average supermarket telling us we can enjoy almost any fruit or vegetable year-round. And lastly, farmers markets offer a unique opportunity to meet and greet the hard-working farmers who are growing food for our families.

The demand for local food has never been greater, and the growth of farmers markets across the United States has been rapid over the last decade. In the mid-nineties, there were under 2000 farmers markets operating in the United States. Today, that number has more than tripled with over 6000 markets currently operating in addition to nearly 1000 winter markets, many of which can be found throughout cold regions of the nation. Not only do more people want to know the origins of what they eat, but they are realizing the positive impact of buying local food for our health, the planet, and the economy.

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