Local charm: The many benefits of farmers' markets

October 9, 2015

Not only has the way vegetables are grown undergone major changes; so has the way vegetables are sold. The supermarket is no longer your main option.Today, country and city dwellers alike can enjoy, in an unprecedented way, the benefits of truly fresh and varied produce from the many small farmers who are willing to load up their trucks in the early morning darkness and drive to urban or suburban markets to sell their vegetables, fruits and other agricultural products.

Farmers' markets have provided a real alternative to those export markets that force farmers to both overproduce and overuse chemical sprays and fertilizers, and then pay them less and less for their crops. Partly as a result of that and partly because people are seeking out organic and locally-produced fruits and vegetables more and more, farmers' markets are on the rise.

At a farmers' market – also sometimes called a growers' market – small producers have the necessary platform to sell their food directly to the public. In most of the markets, management or a centralized municipal or governmental association rents a space to each individual grower or artisan, and takes care of running the market facilities. The benefit of this arrangement is passed on to you in the form of affordable produce and a pleasant shopping experience.

Local charm: The many benefits of farmers' markets

A friendly way to shop

Wandering through farmers' markets is not only a pleasant way to come across fresh, local foods, it's also a wonderful opportunity to get to know the men and women who grow them. They can tell you about the different varieties of produce that they grow and the best ways to prepare, cook and serve them. They will also alert you to the crops that will be arriving in the coming weeks. It is no wonder that these markets have become so popular that they rank as major tourist attractions in many towns and cities.

Farmers, consumers and community members at large all benefit from farmers' markets. Many small farmers are in business only because of the popularity of urban open-air markets. With no middlemen, they're able to charge low prices and still make a profit because they keep the money that would otherwise be lost to shipping, distribution and marketing through supermarkets. As a result, city dwellers get to enjoy such things as corn picked the same day, vine-ripened tomatoes, tree-ripened peaches and richly flavoured honey, straight from the hive, all at decent prices.

A boost to nutrition

There are many ways vendors at farmers' markets help to promote good health besides selling fresh, seasonal food. Small farmers frequently offer unusual varieties of fruits and vegetables that aren't found in regular supermarkets because they are not grown on larger commercial farms. Farmers' markets do more than provide fresh food and preserve a tradition of small family farms. They help bring a sense of purpose and pride to the areas where they are located. In many cities, the presence of a farmers' market has brought about neighbourhood improvements and helped to stimulate further commercial development in the area. Not surprisingly, it looks like they are not only here to stay, but will expand into more areas.

Head out to your local market to see what local artists and growers are producing for your community.

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