Are there really benefits from buying local food? We all benefit at least indirectly when food can be supplied to us directly with less transportation cost, less packaging and handling, less refrigeration and less time in storage. Also, when we buy from local farmers we are keeping the ability to have food grown nearby which puts some of the control of what gets grown as well. We are also keeping money nearby instead of going to farms thousands of miles away. The next section highlights why local farms are important.
Are there increased health benefits from locally grown produce? The longer produce sits on a shelf the more nutrients lost. Produce in the grocery store has often been picked at least a week before it is on the shelves, travelled long distance and undergone lots of packaging. Plants are specifically bred to make that travel without turning to mush. At the grocery store, you may get tomatoes that have the consistency and often taste of cardboard. If something can’t survive transport you will never see it on the shelves unless it’s grown locally.
In contrast, our Farmers Market growers usually pick their produce within 24 hours of it coming to market. Last winter some of the mushrooms came to the market BEFORE they were picked. Can’t get fresher than that!
California is having a drought that may increase food costs for the entire country. Timothy Richards, a professor of agribusiness at Arizona State University, has estimated there will be a 10 to 20% supply loss and a 28 to 34% increase in cost to consumers of California’s produce. Some crops such as avocados and almonds can’t be grown in Texas, but we can grow berries, broccoli, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, figs, apricots, nectarines, peaches, and plums among other crops if customers are willing to eat seasonally.
The benefits of buying directly at a farmers market don’t end there. Farmers are often fonts of information about how to make the food they grow taste delicious. In some cases they have had years to experiment and search for recipes that are heirlooms in their own right. At any rate, they’ll share their newest, favorite way to prepare any given produce.
Community values show up at a farmers market. When people of all income levels have access to high quality fresh food, the whole community benefits. Lone Star Electronic Benefit Transfer cards are accepted at our market to ensure accessibility for all.
Benefits of communities that invest in a Farmers Market are similar to communities that invest in good schools and nice parks. There is an investment into infrastructure that benefits all the community members. Because of that investment there are more vibrant communities with higher property values. If I ever leave my community, I will look for another one that has a Farmers Market.
Our Coppell Farmers Market has multiple options besides produce. Vendors provide meats and many artisan products, with new products coming and going though out the year. Check out the variety, watch your kids play in the adjacent fountain (seasonally) and playground, talk to your neighbors and treat every market day like the neighborhood festival it is.