Farmers Markets Over Grocery Stores
Sustainability is an incredibly important topic in today’s world that suffers more and more pollution everyday. There are many small changes you can make to your life that have lasting impacts on the fate of our world. One of these changes is to choose to shop for produce at your local farmer’s market over a grocery store.
June 6, 2018
A sea that crashes in shades of blue and green; golden fields that wave in the wind; palm trees that reach up to touch the clouds. One of the chief reasons California has become such a popular place to live is the natural beauty of the state. It is one of the most wonderful parts of living here.
But if you take a step closer and really look, you will notice plastic bottles churning with the sea, plastic bags caught in the fronds of the fields, and trash littered at the base of the trees. Our planet is suffering because of us. A Native-American proverb states that “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
It is important to take a look at our own lives and see what we are doing to help our planet thrive. Choices we make every day can either have a negative or positive impact on the fate of our world, be it turning the lights off when you are leaving the room, taking shorter showers or choosing to support local farmers markets over grocery store chains. Buying your produce locally benefits the planet’s health, your own health, and your local economy’s health, so why not take the step and make the change?
In today’s world, sustainability has become essential in battling the negative effects we have on our environment. Sustainability can be defined as keeping from depleting our natural resources, a problem that grows with each passing hour. Through shopping at farmers markets, you are cutting out the middleman. Most produce at the grocery store is shipped from faraway places, which adds to the pollution in the world as it needs to be transported and packed in order to get from one place to another. Food can travel “over 1,000 miles from the point of production” in order to get to the grocery store, while most farmers markets have rules in place that “only allow vendors to sell food produced within 200 miles” and some “within 50 miles.”
By buying your produce from your local farmers market, you ensure you are not adding on to the giant carbon footprint left by the transportation of food. Farmers that sell at these markets also “minimize the amount of waste and pollution they create,” through practicing more sustainable farming. Many choose to farm using “certified organic practices [that reduce] the number of synthetic pesticides and chemicals that pollute our soil and water,” as well as “[adopt] low-impact practices” that help minimize the growth of environmental problems such as climate change. These little changes can make all the difference in protecting our planet as they have big impacts, so by choosing to support your local farmers market, you are choosing to support the health of your planet.
Farmers markets not only support the planet’s health but your own health. You can personally ask the farmer you buy produce from how the food was grown if any pesticides were used, and any other questions you may have because you are buying straight from the source. A 2015 survey of farmers who sell at farmers markets found that “[f]our out of five [farmers] discuss farming practices with their customers.” This means that they are willing to interact with you and provide information in a way that grocery stores just cannot match.
Although it has not been scientifically proven that local produce is more healthy than produce from the grocery store, farmers markets definitely support health more. At the grocery store, you can be more tempted to buy sugary processed foods, “which typically contains lots of refined carbohydrates, sugar, fat, and preservatives,” because it is there for the taking. This temptation does not exist at the farmers market as most products sold there are homemade. Most vendors also “sell organically labeled products, and many more sell chemical or pesticide-free labeled products,” which is better for both your own health and the planet’s health as you are not putting chemicals in your body or supporting the practice of polluting the Earth with chemicals.
In addition to supporting the planet’s health and your personal health, when you buy local produce, you are also supporting your local economy’s health. Buying from your local farmer’s market is a great way to give back to your community. Farmers markets create jobs and keep the money circulating in the local economy. They give business to local farmers and ensure that they can keep doing what they do.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, when “food is produced, processed, distributed and sold all within the same region, more money stays in the local economy … [which] leads to economic development and job creation.” This means that there is more money being made by locals to boost local economic growth. When you buy from grocery stores, the money often goes out of the local economy and into the hands of big corporations. Small-time farmers also rely on local markets for the opportunity to sell their products in a way that helps them save on the “added costs of shipping, storage and inventory control.” So, by choosing to buy your oranges from your local farmer’s markets over getting a bag of easy-peel CUTIES® oranges from Albertson’s, you are supporting the livelihood of people in your community.
A common misconception that keeps people from farmers markets is the belief that they are more expensive. However, a study by the North-East Farming Association of Vermont found that while about 64 percent of overall grocery store produce was found to be cheaper than produce found at farmers markets when you compared prices of organic produce, farmers markets were overwhelmingly cheaper in almost every category. So at farmers markets, you have the ability to get healthier food for cheaper than it would be to get healthier food at grocery stores. This incentivizes you to choose organic over non-organic, again supporting your health and the planet’s health.
One of the top reasons people choose to buy from grocery stores is the convenience. Everything you need is right there, and it often comes in little packages so you do not have to bring your own bag. However, these little packages add on to the plastic waste in the world that you see every time you drive along the highway or take a stroll on the beach. While it may be more convenient for you, it isn’t for our planet. Having a healthy planet should hold precedence over saving a little bit of time.
If you ask a kid what the color of the earth is, they will probably respond “green and blue.” In order for this to stay true, we need to start making a change. And buying your produce locally is a good way to start. If you care about the planet’s health, your own health or your community’s economic health, you can give back by simply choosing to grab some reusable grocery bags and head over to the nearest local farmers market the next time you run out of lettuce.