What are the benefits of shopping at local farmers markets?

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Answered by: Alexandra, An Expert in the Local Foods - General Category
With the number of food options available to us today at grocery stores and restaurants, it’s hard to know if what we’re putting into our bodies is actually beneficial to our health. We are constantly faced with claims that food is all natural or organic, but have no way of knowing whether or not these claims are true. In addition, we often don’t know where our food comes from or if the practices used to produce it are safe. There is, however, a worthy alternative or supplement to grocery store shopping. Local farmers markets present the opportunity to purchase high-quality, locally grown food at affordable prices.

It is important to understand that shopping at a farmers market does not automatically mean that you are getting the best product. Farmers market stands often import crops that are not in season from farms in other states, which may indicate that you could find a similar product at the grocery store. While this also doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a bad product, you aren’t getting the freshest one. Additionally, some farmers may not use natural or organic farming practices. Therefore, when you visit a farmers market, it is imperative that you buy from a local farm that maintains healthy and sustainable farming practices.

Obviously, the greatest benefit of buying locally grown food is that it tastes delicious because it doesn’t have to travel across the country in order to get to your table. It also hasn’t been factory-washed and sealed in plastic, which detracts from the freshness and flavor. Another benefit of buying local food is that these small farms most likely don’t use harsh fertilizers and pesticides, which can have harmful effects on your health. Big corporate farming conglomerates, such as Archer Daniels Midland, want to produce as much as they can as fast as they can, meaning that they probably use unnatural chemicals in their soil in order to mass produce. These chemicals are not only harmful to the human body, but also to the farmland as well.

Sustainability of farmland is another great reason to shop at local farmers markets. Most small, local farmers understand farming practices and value their land, meaning they will treat it well. Usually, these farmers practice crop rotation and grow a wide range of crops each season. This allows soil to recover so that it will continue to produce tasty and nutritious food for years to come.

Lastly, buying food from sustainable local farms is good for the environment. Farmers who make a living off of their land tend to take good care of it and therefore avoid fertilizers and pesticides. Also, because local farms grow and sell their food locally, it does not have to be trucked across the country or packaged thoroughly. This reduces both pollution and waste.

While locally grown foods are not always as accessible as the provisions at your grocery store, it is worth keeping an eye out for farmers markets that may be in your community. Your body will thank you!

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