When’s the last time you visited a local farmers market? It's harder with the summer months upon us, especially in a state like Arizona, but some of our markets are still open! We've supplied a link at the bottom of this blog with operating hours for different markets in the Valley.
You might be asking yourself, "Why shop at a farmers market when my grocery store sells organic produce?" August 2-8 is National Farmers Market Week and we're here to give you five great reasons to participate!
1. Stimulate the Local Economy & Support Farmers
Do you remember hearing about food shortages in the media? Supply chains for larger food companies were strained by the Coronavirus shut down, causing food to be delayed and even wasted. When you spend a dollar on food at the grocery store, about 15% of that money is going to local farmers and ranchers. Most of the cost of food goes toward marketing, processing, wholesaling, distribution & retailing.
Buying fresh produce from the local farmers is a great way to support your local economy and support farmers. At a farmers market you are putting most of your money in the hands of the farmers in your community rather than a large companies’ supply chain. Buying local means your money stays local.
2. It Can Actually Be Cheaper, For Similar Produce
Organic fruits & vegetables have become widely available at supermarkets and grocery stores across the country. Wouldn’t you rather have something locally grown though? In a study by the USDA, more than half of farmers travel less than ten miles to sell their produce. Referring back to those complicated and expensive supply chains…your produce also has a better chance of being fresh.
3. Promote Sustainability & Increase Access to Fresh Foods
Farmers generally know how much to bring, but leftovers from farmers markets occasionally go to local food banks. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, “if there are leftovers at the end of market, vendors are ready to recycle unsold produce into value-added products. For instance, excess tomatoes become tomato sauce and apples become apple cider.” Products that aren't donated or used for value added products can be composted and the nutrients can be returned to the soil.
In addition to supporting local farmers and small business owners you also increase access to fresh foods in your community. Did you know that many farmers markets accept SNAP benefits? While you may not use SNAP benefits yourself, it is important to support those who may need access to affordable, healthy food.
4. Find Something Unique
A local market is a great way to find local vendors and food trucks you may not have seen otherwise. You’re also more likely to find unique local foods or seasonal produce. Good luck finding prickly pear ice cream at Whole Foods! Farmers sell fresh produce, but they might also be passionate about creating jams or fresh baked pies with their fruit. Some farmers markets also include arts and crafts vendors or live music. Support your local artists!
5. Grow Relationships in Your Community
There is a solid chance that you don’t see the doctor who practices closest to your house. Quality and price are major factors and sustainability is always a plus, but many of our financial decisions come down to our relationships with others. Trusting your doctor to provide knowledge about your health is similar to trusting a farmer to provide knowledge about your food.
Get more information about your food with the opportunity to connect with a small business owner in your community. Find some fresh produce and maybe even a few friends along the way.
Local Farmers Markets & Hours: https://arizonacommunityfarmersmarkets.com/