What They Sell
A farmers market is any local community marketplace for area farmers to sell their produce directly to the public. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and other farm products like honey, nuts, and hand-prepared food items are commonly sold. Farmers markets typically function seasonally in relation to local climates and crops, setting up a physical retail vending area weekly or monthly, often seasonally.
These markets represent a vital link between local food growers and the consumers who eat their products.
Presence of the Farmers Market in Society
Farmers markets have been known to exist since long before the industrial age. However, their prominent role has diminished over the twentieth century. Price competition from large-scale agriculture industry and rising transportation costs has generally made them less economically viable. Meanwhile, the large-scale agriculture industry’s use of GMOs, combined with better refrigeration and storing techniques, has made it easier for consumers to find out-of-season produce in grocery markets. Furthermore, as processed foods have become more prevalent, the demand for fresh foods has decreased over time.
However, the popularity of these types of local markets may again be on the rise, perhaps due to a dawning interest in natural foods and healthy lifestyles. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that as of 2012, there were more than 7800 active farmers markets in the U.S.
Advantages of Buying Locally Grown Produce
Farmers markets offer consumers unparalleled quality, freshness, and selection of produce, including many organically-grown options. Furthermore, by fostering personal relationships with vendors, these markets afford individuals the opportunity to learn exactly how their food is grown. The market itself becomes a social meeting place which promotes community involvement in health and environmental issues relating to food and agriculture.
As this produce does not need to be transported great distances, emissions and fuel costs to growers are significantly reduced. Also, these suppliers are often not using artificial fertilizers and pesticides, further lowering the risk of environmental damage.
Where to Find Local Farmers Markets
LocalHarvest, an online community focused upon locally grown food and farming, offers a searchable database of farmers markets by zip code.