By Alex Gladu, Independent We Stand
Did you know that this week marks the 15th annual National Farmers Market Week in the U.S.? Join Independent We Stand and more than 8,000 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 always important and increasingly popular component to the retail food market. They connect farmers and ranchers with local consumers, and they offer the freshest produce from the local community. Farmers markets promote a farm-to-fork lifestyle, where food goes directly from the farmer to a family’s dinner table, without passing through cross-country distributors and national supermarket chains first. The farm-to-fork system has been around since the dawn of agriculture, but it’s becoming more and more popular now because it’s better for the consumers, the environment and the economy.
Consumers enjoy the freshest produce available with the peace of mind of knowing the farmer who grew their food. 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 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. When local farmers earn profits, they return much of the money to the local economy by spending locally and paying local taxes.
As farmers markets become more and more popular, the farm-to-fork lifestyle is more accessible than ever. Farmers markets are popping up in regions across the country – in both rural and urban communities. In honor of National Farmers Market Week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its 2014 update to its National Farmers Market Directory. This online database includes 8,268 farmers markets representing all regions of the country and allows users to find the farmers market closest to them. In fact, the USDA reports that this year’s collection of farmers markets represents a 76 percent increase in the number of markets nationwide since 2008.
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.
About the Author
Alex is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is double-majoring in Public Relations and Spanish. Since becoming a writer for Independent We Stand, she has fully adopted the ‘buy local’ lifestyle. Her favorite indie business is Sugarland, a bakery in Chapel Hill, N.C, where she has been known to go a little cupcake crazy. She hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in nonprofit or political communication.