Ah, Spring. The signs are all around us.
It’s “spring” in East Texas! You know it is, because:
Birds are chirping
Leaf blowers are wailing
Fruit trees are blossoming (just in time for the last Canadian blast)
Spring also is the season that ushers in many well-loved seasonal events, including our favorite: local farmers’ markets! Soon, your area farmers will be loading up in the predawn hours to bring you the best of local produce and artisan foods.
You probably already know some great reasons to support your local farmers and markets. If you don’t, then here are some we hope you’ll get excited about:
Farmers’ markets support local farmers and our local economy
According to the Farmers Market Coalition, “growers selling locally...return three times as much of their sales to the local economy compared to those who sell through chains.” (This also applies to farmers selling through local farm stores.)
Farmers’ markets protect the environment
Did you know that the food you buy from U.S. grocery store chains travels an average of 1,500 miles from where it’s farmed or ranched to get to your plate? That’s from here to, say, New York City. All that shipping wastes natural resources, contributes to pollution, and creates packaging trash. Conventional ag also pollutes water, land, and air with toxic chemicals.
Not only are local farmers minimizing their impact by selling at local markets and farm stores, they’re far more likely to be using natural pest management techniques and helping improve soil health.
Farmers’ markets offer cleaner foods
Who likes toxic chemicals sprayed on their foods? (Anybody?) This may be the most important reason you should support your local farmers’ markets and farm stores. You’re significantly more likely to find unadulterated foods there. Many of the farmers at your local market are certified organic or Certified Naturally grown (CNG).
You may not have heard about CNG, but it’s an alternative to organic certification. (Think of it as “better than organic,” as the program’s standards match the highest ideals of the organic movement.)
Based on a peer-review certification model, CNG is tailored for farms and ranches, apiaries, and aquaponics and mushroom growers that are producing food for their local communities. It’s more affordable, offers less paperwork, and supports a quicker certification process. If you’d like to learn more, visit https://www.cngfarming.org/.
Farmers’ markets connect you to your community
Did you know that when you shop at a farmers’ market, you’ll engage in between 15 and 20 social interactions? Compare that to a visit to a chain grocery store, when you’ll have only one or two. (That is, unless you try to sneak in looking like you’ve just gotten out of bed, and then you’ll see about 20 people you know.)
Farmers’ markets are community hubs. They’re great places to meet friends, bring your children, or just enjoy a fun and relaxing morning. Put them on your list of favorite things to return every spring!