12 June 2012
Lettuceman’s Top Five Reasons to Love Farmer's Markets
Here’s a sure sign that summer has arrived. The Mt. Tom Farmer's Market is up and running with a full complement of 25 vendors selling everything from fresh vegetables and farm eggs to baked goods and crafts. And starting this week, the Market on the Green is back in business with a similar array of offerings. So let's celebrate with David Lettuceman’s Top Five Reasons to Love Farmer's Markets.
Reason #5: You’ll develop a relationship with your food.
When you talk to the person who grew the asparagus he just dropped into your shopping bag, you create a relationship that is entirely absent when you pick up a plastic-wrapped Styrofoam tray of stalks with dried ends in a grocery store. The farmer will tell you how she grew it and her favorite way to prepare it, as well as what she's planning to bring to market next week.
Reason #4: Local farming is sustainable.
Many of the farms selling at our local farmers markets are certified organic, and almost all follow sustainable practices. In contrast, the industrial farms that supply most supermarkets are heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. They are also major users of fossil fuels to run their equipment and transport food to market, and a recent study showed that produce sold in grocery stores has traveled an average of 1500 miles to reach you.
Reason #3: You support our local economy and protect our local farmscape.
For every dollar you spend the supermarket produce section, 75 cents goes to the packagers, processors, truckers, wholesalers, and distributors of the final product. In contrast, when you buy at a farmer's market, 90 cents of every dollar goes directly back to the farm to sustain our rural heritage and landscape.
Reason #2: Local sustainably grown food is so much healthier.
Unlike factory farms where heavily fertilized single crops exhaust the soil, local practices such as crop rotation and composting enhance soil quality and increases vitamin and mineral concentration in the crops. And local produce is sold fresh, so it doesn't contain preservatives and isn't subjected to irradiation to increase shelf life. Little wonder that compared to factory farmed produce, organic spinach contains 52% more vitamin C and carrots 69% more magnesium.
Reason #1 to love our local farmers markets: The food tastes a whole lot better!
And why wouldn't it? It’s picked fresh and ripe, often the same day you buy it. And local farmers grow varieties that are bred for their flavor, not for their shelf life or travel durability.
So at the Mt. Tom Farmer's Market on Saturday, ask the bearded Robert Clark how he naturally ripens the gorgeous Whiskers Wonders tomatoes he sells from the back of his truck. Then check in with Anne Dean for her favorite way to prepare the beautiful fresh Swiss chard she sells. And have a chat with Kevin Taft about why he refuses to use any spray, chemical or organic, on his crops. The more you know, the more you'll want to return each week.
The Mt. Tom Farmer's market, on Route 12, a mile north of Woodstock Village, is open from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM on Saturdays. The Market on the Green operates right in the village each Wednesday from 3 PM to 6 PM.
by Christopher Bartlett