- The Variety and Specialty Goods
At a farmers’ market, you never know what you are going to find because of the variety! Things you can find include: produce, meats, cheeses, breads, pastries, drinks, authentic cuisine, cards, knitwear, and even beauty products! These products can also be considered specialty goods because they are hand-grown and handmade. Two Saturdays ago, when I was working at the Seacoast Eat Local Winter Farmers’ Market at Wentworth Greenhouses, I bought some peanut butter from Above the Dam Jam and it was, by far, the best peanut butter I have ever had! As I said, you never know what will be at a farmers’ market, which is part of the fun!
- The Farmers
The local farmers care about what they are producing. They put their love into what they do and it shows. There is something special about being able to talk with the individual that created your food. This building of relationships between the farmer and consumer is something that is very difficult to do in today’s commercial food system. One time I went to a farmers’ market, I ended up having a lovely conversation with a goat-cheese producer! The woman even invited me to visit the farm with the baby goats! This dynamic also exists with the individuals that do not sell food-based products. They are always open to talking about what they do and their experiences.
- The Sense of Community
Farmers’ markets truly inspire a sense of community. It is not like your average grocery store where individuals go around determined only to get items on a checklist. Instead, you are interacting with the people around you, commenting on the jam sample you just tried, and recommending that a person try some authentic cuisine. Everything about a farmers’ market promotes discussions: vendors describing their products to customers, customers sharing their experiences with the vendors, and customers telling other customers what they like best. The interactions that you have at a farmers’ market are one reason why farmers’ markets are so special!
Instead of being produced to have a long shelf-life, the food and produce are made and harvested fresh then brought to the market. This ensures that you, as a customer, get the freshest goods possible. When vendors run out of their inventory, they close. They don’t have any shelf inventory to restock their goods. Because these products are so fresh, it makes them taste even better too! Stay tuned for an experiment on this later!
- The Environmental Benefits
The farms represented at farmers’ markets are locally based. This helps the environment because travel time from producer to stand is significantly less, thereby decreasing emissions due to transporting the product. This is especially evident when you compare the transportation costs of local farms to the transportation costs of out-of-season goods shipped from other countries!
- The Economic Benefits
By shopping at a local farmers’ market, more money is going to support the vendors than when you buy at a grocery store. This makes it so the vendors can survive, keep doing what they are doing, and continue to provide you with the products that you love! It’s a win-win! The money spent at a farmers’ market also goes towards the local economy rather than government subsidies for cash crops like corn, which is often made into feed for cows and corn syrup for processed goods . . . not very sustainable or local.
- It’s Fun, Yummy, and Lively
The atmosphere at a local farmers’ market is incredibly lively and bustling! There is lots of community interaction, live music is usually playing, and most of the tables have samples to try. Even the way the vendors’ stands are set up positively adds to the atmosphere because they are visually appealing. The markets are a celebration of local food, the community, and sustainability. The amazing products, fun nature, and community vibe is what keeps bringing people back!
Because of these reasons, I highly recommend going to a farmers’ market if you haven’t already! It is more than going out to buy your food. It is connecting with like-minded people, trying some delicious, new and unique foods, and enjoying yourself! You will love it! I love being back at farmers’ markets with this internship and can’t wait to explore more of the market tomorrow!
All the Best,