Friday, June 25, 2010

Farmers Markets: Why Should You Go?

It's been a crazy week here and I'm heading to school this weekend.  Expect shorter but just as sweet posts  while I'm in NYC listening to Paul Pitchford speak.  In the meantime, check out the June newsletter that came out today and sign up to receive it every month if you haven't already! 

One of my goals this summer is to really become a regular at the local farmers markets in Boston.  I am blessed that the city has a plethora to visit on various days throughout the week.  There is even one twice a week across the street from South Station which is only 10 minutes away from my office.  There are so many advantages, health and otherwise, to buying local and fresh. 

Tasty: We are talking about fresh food.  Food that has usually been picked in the past 24 hours or less and at a peak of ripeness!  This means that the fruits are going to be sweeter and juicer and the vegetables are going to be more colorful and crunchier.  My friend has been known to purchase heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market and eat them as her afternoon snack.

Nutrient-packed:  A produces' freshness is highly correlated to its nutritional value.  (A) They weren't picked while under ripe and allowed to ripen while traveling on a cargo ship and truck. They are picked at their peak of ripeness and brought to the market. This means that they were allowed to grow to their fullest potential and to reap the most benefits of the soil and sun.  (B) They haven't had to travel as far as grocery store produce which means that they haven't lost as many nutrients between garden and kitchen. (C) Many farmers practice proper crop rotation, a technique that has been abandoned by the larger farming industry.  Rotating crops allows the soil to replenish its minerals which still utilizing the very valuable land. 

(Likely) Organic: Many local farmers actually follow gardening methods and philosophies that would qualify as organic including crop rotation and not using dangerous pesticides and herbicides. Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to get that certification and many farmers cannot make that investment.  The best bet is to talk to the farmers and understand what they growing methods are.

Eco-friendly: As I mentioned, many farmers follow organic growing techniques which are definitely eco-friendly.  Not using pesticides and herbicides means they stay out of our air, water, and soil as well as any wild animals that come in contact with them.  Crop rotation allows the soil to rebuild its supply, essentially give it time to heal.  Additionally, the produce has a much lower carbon footprint than produce found in the grocery store.  This is the case with organic fruits and vegetables too.  Many of which come all the way from Central and South America!

Local Economics: Lastly, you are supporting a local economy and folks who are doing honest work and growing food to nurture us.  Who deserves our money more than them?

These are only some of the reasons to start checking out your farmers markets.  I hope one or all of these reasons compel you enough to do that.  Don't know if you have a farmers market near you?  Check out Local Harvest to find one!

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