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Why You Should Shop At The Farmers’ Market

Man holding a box of tomatoes with the words "Why you should shop at the farmers' market" written on it.

We love the farmers’ market. Even before we were working there, we were fans of heading downtown and checking out what the local farmers had for sale. If your town has one, you should shop at the farmers’ market.

Pete runs a small batch marinara sauce business and we spend each Saturday at farmers’ markets selling his sauce. We’ve gotten to know so many local vendors and have a huge appreciation for them and what they do.

Why You Should Shop At The Farmers’ Market

Products Are Fresh

The majority of the fruits and vegetables are picked a day or two before the market. The local seafood is caught and clammed that week and baked goods are made during the week too.

Sure, boxed treats are easy to grab when you’re at the grocery store. They’re convenient too since they’re already pre-packaged and pre-portioned.

But those are made in a factory, usually using chemicals as preservatives, and then boxed and driven to the grocery store. Then, the box sits on a shelf for who knows how long.

A pastry you buy at your local farmers’ market is made with a few ingredients, wrapped, and brought to the market. It’s a lot fresher.

I get it. That treat from the grocery store will last longer. And if you’re on a tight budget, you need foods that won’t expire before you can get to them. Food waste is something we have to be conscious of.

But when you’re at a farmers’ market, the producer is right there. The couple who baked that loaf of bread is right in front of you. You can ask them when it was made, how long it is shelf-stable for, if it’s able to be frozen, etc.

With those answers, you know just how long you have to eat the product. If you’ll eat it within those parameters, great. And if not, it’s okay to walk away.

There’s Less Of A Strain On The Environment

All of the products at a farmers’ market are recently picked or produced, then are only driven a handful of miles from the farm or ocean to the market.

When I went to the new Dirtbag Ales Brewery And Taproom and learned about the new farmers’ market starting there, I was told all products were coming from a 50-mile radius.

If you’re shopping in a grocery store, many of the out-of-season fruits and vegetables are imported from other countries. Avocados from Mexico are delicious, but they have to come from Mexico.

Think about how those avocados get to you. There’s gas, the wear and tear on the road, the electricity used in the warehouses that store products, so many impacts on the environment to travel from Mexico to you.

Products that are produced and consumed locally don’t have that strain on the environment. So if you’re environmentally-conscious, shopping at the local farmers’ market reduces your carbon footprint.

You can learn more about that here.

You’re Supporting Local Entrepreneurs

It’s hard to start a business. Really hard. Trust me. Between running my two websites, and Pete’s sauce business, we have quite a bit of experience with running small businesses.

Just a hint of what it looks like: It’s Friday night. I’m sitting at the kitchen table typing blog posts and Pete is a few feet away making a batch of fra diavolo sauce. We haven’t eaten dinner yet, and the rest of our night will consist of watching Dateline (and hoping it’s a Keith Morrison episode).

When the farmers’ market season, we don’t go out on Friday nights. During the offseason, our Friday nights look like the one I just described. And during the season, when we have to be up at 5:45 in the morning on a Saturday to pack the car and drive to the market, we make it as far as the pot lucks at our community’s clubhouse and then we’re home by 9.

Local entrepreneurs make a lot of sacrifices, and still, most small businesses fail. Within the first year, 10% fail; within 10 years, almost 70% fail, according to this. And let’s not even think about how 2020 impacted small businesses.

So, by buying tomatoes from the farmer at a local market, rather than buying it at a grocery store, you’re supporting his dream rather than a corporate conglomerate.

You Can Support The Local Economy

If you shop with local farmers, your money is staying in your local area. You’re helping that farmer keep a farm in your area.

Farms are so expensive to run. They require a lot of land and other resources, and that costs money. When you shop with a local farmer, you help keep the lights on at the farm. And if that farm stays in your community, it’s great for your community.

Local farmers and vendors benefit more from your dollar than chain grocery stores do. And while big box stores are in many states, local farmers and vendors aren’t.

Support the local farmer because only you can. Someone states away has no idea about this entrepreneur and cannot support them. But you can.

Big box stores appreciate you spending your money there, and you are, in a sense, helping your community there too. You’re keeping a tax-paying business in your town, which can potentially lower your taxes overall. You’re also supporting local jobs because your neighbors are employed at that big box grocery store. So if it closes, your neighbors are out of jobs.

So, there are reasons to shop at chain grocery stores. And if that’s what your budget allows, there’s no harm in that.

But, if your wallet can’t support the local farmers, your social media sure can. It costs nothing to like your local farmers’ market on Facebook. It doesn’t cost you anything to follow your local farmers and vendors on Instagram and like their photos in order to help the algorithm.

You can support them without even opening your wallet, and you should definitely do that. You have no idea how much that like or thumbs up means to a small business.

What’s your favorite thing to buy when you shop at the farmers’ market? Let us know in the comments.