Did you know that this week marks the 18th annual National Farmers Market Week in the U.S.? Join us and more than 8,600 farmers markets across the country in celebrating locally grown food and the hardworking farmers who grow it this week and throughout the rest of the season!
Farmers markets are an important and increasingly popular component to the retail food market. They connect farmers and ranchers with local consumers, and offer the freshest produce from the local community. Having a farmer on site to explain the growing process and conditions can be invaluable when it comes to finding the healthiest and freshest food for your family.
The environment also reaps the benefits; because farmers markets don’t rely on cross-country shipping practices to bring in their produce. That means they use fewer fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by transporting produce just a few miles from the farm to the market. Also, farmers markets preserve and sustain local farms, which add green space to the community, prevent urban sprawl and preserve the soil for generations to come.
Finally, the local economy benefits from farmers markets because they keep money in the community, rather than diverting it to corporate headquarters and farms in other regions or countries. According to the National Farmers Union, American farmers and ranchers receive only 15.6 cents of every food dollar consumers spend on food. Farmers markets run on lean budgets and keep overheads low so that farmers can retain more of our food dollar.When local farmers retain their profits, they return much of the money to the local economy by spending locally and paying local taxes.
In honor of National Farmers Market Week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its National Farmers Market Directory. This online database includes 8,691 farmers markets representing all regions of the country and allows users to find the farmers market closest to them.
Farmers markets are an essential part of the movement toward healthier food and a healthier economy. Support a local farmers market this week by stopping by a produce stand, signing up for a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program or spreading the word about your favorite local farmers market.