The number of farmers’ markets continue to rise in Northern Ireland as with the rest of the UK. Many people are beginning to enjoy the benefits associated with buying their food at the farmers’ market instead of making a trip to big chain grocery stores.
Such markets are good for local economies, farmers, consumers and the environment. A study in Sussex found that farmers’ markets in general can improve access to food for people on low incomes. Here are some reasons why we should all make it a point to shop at our local farmers’ market.
Enjoy fresher fruits and vegetables
Unlike grocery stores where fruits and vegetables may be some days’ old before they reach the produce aisle, fruits and vegetables at a farmers’ market are usually fresher and of a higher quality. This is because fruits are allowed to ripen fully and naturally (without use of chemicals to stimulate the ripening process) and then brought to the market fresh from the farm. You will be amazed at the difference in flavour and texture if you start adding farmer’s market produce to your cooking.
Eat In Season
Eating within the seasons is nothing new. Go back as little as 70 years ago in the UK and most people would have had no other choice but to do so. These days there is a new interest in getting back to this way of life. People in the UK are beginning to lean towards a more seasonal style of eating where one eats what is locally available and in season. The food you buy at the farmers’ market is grown seasonally and helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in this region. As you look forward to asparagus and aubergine, and strawberries in summer, or bake pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the weather and the different periods of the year.
Support local farmers and small business owners
There is no doubt that the number of families engaged in farming (especially small farms) have reduced drastically over the years. Local farmers have a hard time competing with big chain grocery stores, thus buying directly from them provides them with a source of revenue and gives them a chance in today’s globalized economy.
Healthy and sustainable
Many supermarkets receive their produce from hundreds to thousands of miles away and this requires massive amounts of fuel in transporting them. All the food at a farmers’ market comes from within the county boundary, or 30 miles of each market and therefore needs less processing, less packaging and less chemical preservatives to survive long journeys. Eating food grown in the local area cuts down on the money, energy and other resources required to ship food to you.
Know where your food comes from
It’s important to know what you are eating. With the presence of the farmer himself at the market, you are given a great opportunity to learn more about the farm’s growing and processing practices and general information on how and where food is produced. This is not possible when shopping at a chain store.
Going to your local farmer’s market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore, as it serves as a place to connect with neighbours and members of your community. Meeting your local community is an excellent way to feel connected to the world around you, increasing health for body, mind and spirit.