Late summer is the season for farmers markets, and shopping at them isn’t just good for your palate, it’s good for the environment.
Supporting local farmers means that the amount of fossil fuels used to get your food to you is drastically reduced since the farm is much closer to your kitchen. Most produce in the US is shipped an average of 1500 miles before being sold. That’s a lot of fuel! Large national producers use giant industrial farm equipment (read: lots of fuel and pollution), and a large amount of packaging materials are needed to keep the fruits and veggies fresh during the trip. Small family farms don’t usually have to deal with that. Many small farms use eco-friendly and organic growing methods, although they are not necessarily certified due to the bureaucratic red tape involved in certification.
Extra bonus, since these goodies are grown locally, they are picked at their peak of freshness and ripeness so there is no need to ripen them artificially. You’ll often hear, “we just picked these yesterday” – a far cry from grocery store produce which can be gassed with chemicals to make them look ripe, irradiated, coated in wax, etc. Can we just say, ick! When produce doesn’t have far to travel, farmers can grow varieties for the flavor, not just for the longevity and toughness. The taste difference is amazing! Often, farmers markets are also a great source of information such as recipes that really let those in-season gems shine. And if yours isn’t, the internet is full of food bloggers who are very happy to provide ideas!
Bring your own grocery bags and use alternative transportation to the market for an even bigger impact. Your farmers and your earth thank you!
Photo courtesy of the Downtown SLC Farmer’s Market Facebook page.