As spring approaches and the ground thaws, people around the country are starting to dust off the grills, put out the patio furniture, and some of us are starting to think about what delicious things will soon fill our summer gardens. For those of us that are not planning on having a produce aisle in a sunny section of the yard, the next best thing is the farmers’ market. Farmers markets are great for several reasons. First of all, the food found in the local market is often as fresh as it is going to get and fresh always tastes better. Secondly, supporting the local farmers’ market is always a good idea because it helps to support the local economy (only about 4 out of every 10 dollars spent at a chain store remains in the local community, versus 7 out of 10 for local businesses).
In addition to tasting great and being good for the community, farmers’ markets are good for the environment. Chances are that the food found at your local farmers’ market did not travel any great distances, which helps to keep carbon emissions down and your carbon footprint small (admittedly, there is still debate over the efficiencies of all local production, but efficiencies have been found to exist in many cases, though there may be exceptions). In addition, because producers in farmers markets are generally small operations, they are less likely to use large scale applications of fertilizer, insecticide and other chemicals, which is always an environmental plus. Not to mention that one of the great things about local farmers’ markets is that you get to eat what likes to grow in your area. This is a good thing because it means that a smaller amount of fertilizer and extra energy input was required to make the plant grow, which keeps the overall environmental cost of the plant low.
Now that we can all agree that farmers markets are great, we can all sit back this coming spring and summer and enjoy our locally grown dinners or lunches while saving our wallets and helping the world. There are farmers markets all over the country. Check out one near you. Happy eating!