Farmers markets: A win for you and the environment

I love farmers markets. I love to purchase food directly from people who produce it. I love the fact that I learn about seasonality; something that, growing up in a supermarket culture, I never really appreciated. I love that I can ask vendors about different ways to prepare the fruit and vegetables I’m buying, or even better, be exposed to fruit and vegetables that I have never had before. I love supporting local producers and not the profit margins of multi and transnational corporations. I love that I can ask if the eggs I’m buying are free range and what the chickens were fed. I love the fact that fruit and vegetables and homemade baked goods take centre stage, rather than the highly processed edible food-like substances that make up the majority of what’s sold in most large-chain supermarkets. And of course, I love the fact that I can have a great coffee and freshly made cinnamon bun, or even a more substantial feed from a variety of cuisines which reflect the cultural diversity of the city I find myself in.

Pumpkins, New York style

In St John’s, Newfoundland, where I now live, there is a farmers market every Wednesday night and Saturday. The weather here limits the diversity of fruit and vegetables that one may find in more temperate climates. That said, especially in summer and early autumn, there are enough vegetables on offer to justify avoiding the vegetable section of the supermarket (however, aside from apples and wild berries, there is a paucity of fruit on offer). A few weeks back, I came home from the market with wild chanterelle mushrooms, cauliflower, beets, a range of salad greens, broccoli, different varieties of potatoes and a massive zucchini that soon found itself keeping company with some dark chocolate in a super moist and delicious cake. The limited growing season here in part provides the inspiration for the abundance of jams, chutneys and mustards on offer year round at the market. It also helps explain the popularity of deep freezers that allow people to cook and store the beets, parsnips, carrots etc. that disappear when the snow sets in.

In climate change advocacy circles, the catchphrase “think globally, act locally” encourages people to take a range of actions at the local level to reduce their impact on the planet. In addition to “growing your own”, supporting farmers’ markets is a great way of doing this. It can help decrease both your food miles, as well as your dependence on processed foods, especially ultra processed foods, which are increasingly being recognized as harmful to both your health and the environment. With regard the latter, while it’s well known that intensive agricultural production of monoculture crops and animals is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental damage, less appreciated are the emissions associated with the production, storage and distribution of ultra processed foods, foods that we could easily live without. Put another way, it’s much better for you and the environment to enjoy locally produced, seasonal potatoes, corn, kale, oranges and apples, than it is the potato chips, cornflakes, packaged juice etc. etc.etc.

Market in Copenhagen

In procuring a larger proportion of your weekly food needs from farmers markets, you are supporting your own and your family’s health by eating fresh fruit and vegetables when they are in season and most packed with nutrients. You are also accessing animal produce that has more likely been reared on grass rather than energy dense grains. By doing this, you are supporting the livelihoods of local producers so they can continue to pursue their passions, while also supporting the planet by reducing your food miles. A win for you, your family, the farmer down the road and for the planet.

Featured below are pics from farmers markets I have been lucky enough to visit over the last few years.

One Comment Add yours

  1. minimumman says:

    Love this, and totally agree- farmers markets are a great way to access the local foods, meet locals, and stay sustainable. – Jay @ the minimum man.


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