I love sleep, hate to sleep in.
So at 7 am on a Saturday morning I have to find things to occupy my time while most of my friends sleep and hide from the sun.
I’ll get up, make a cup of coffee, make some breakfast, maybe read a little bit (currently reading The Third Plate – highly recommended). But then it’s only 8 or 9am, so the only logical thing to do is go food shopping.
I get it if going food shopping that early on a Saturday isn’t making it to you to-do list, but here is why I think it should.
Here is a link for 10 reasons to support farmers markets, and I’ll highlight a few of them below.
Farmers Markets are extremely important to the sustainable food movement and the good food economy. For starters, you are directly supporting local farms, you can learn about the food and where it comes from, and most importantly, it just tastes better.
Then there is the environmental impact.
“Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes to pollution, and creates trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land, and air with toxic agricultural by-products. Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.” (Link)
Shopping at farmers markets promotes seasonal eating. When we eat what is local and what is in season, we can reconnect to local flavors, nature, and the ancient history of food. It also keeps the money in the local economy leading to spill over into other local and community businesses.
Farmers markets can be a keystone for the community.
It’s interesting but since I started shopping and volunteering at the farmers market, I feel more connected to my community. It makes sense. If we think about what you do with family, friends, and even strangers, food is a cornerstone for events and gatherings. It is essential to our lives and serves as a paramount part of our relationships. When you meet the farmers that grow your food, its amazing how much more appreciation you have for the intricacies of it.
If you’re still reading my blog on post #4, or even if you’re just finding it for the first time, I imagine you are reading because you care about food. Well I promise you that even just attending a farmers market for the free samples will change the way you look at and appreciate food.
I challenge you to go to a local farmers market, try some of the food the farmers and vendors are selling and not have an intense desire to buy some.
Here is some information about the SFC market and how it has had an impact on me.
These markets are producer-only, so you are assured that the farmers are only selling what they grow, and other vendors can only sell products that they themselves produce. In addition, everything there is grown or produced within 150 miles from Austin.
I am currently a volunteer with Sustainable Food Center at the Saturday markets.
Once or twice a month I work at an awesome booth called Taste the Place. The idea of it is that we go around to all of the vendors and collect anything they would want to sample. We cut, cook, and serve it up for people to try out. Everything is labeled with what it is and where it came from so we can point the patrons in the right direction to purchase the food they are sampling.
It’s a fun and great way to showcase the delicious products offered at the market.
Sustainable Food Center is doing amazing things in the Austin community. The goal of the organization is to cultivate a healthy community by strengthening the local food system and improve access to nutritious, affordable food.
A lot of this work is done at the markets where they feature a double dollars program. The SFC markets accept food stamps, WIC and FMNP benefits which are all DOUBLED up to $30 for the purchase of fruits and vegetables.
For those of you who are not involved in those programs, I want to address what I see as a stigma that goes along with farmers markets. People say, “Oh I would, but they are so expensive.”
People think that buying local, organic produce costs too much money. Well let me show you what you can buy for less that $30 at a farmers market.
Pictured below from left to right is eggplant, onions, pears, cucumber, watermelon, yellow squash, purple carrots, mixed sweet peppers, a butternut squash, sweet potato greens, and a sweet potato. Not in the picture but also purchased is a pound of baby portobello mushrooms.
We go out and spend $30 on drinks on a Friday night without thinking twice, but when we are asked to consider spending that on the food that nourishes our bodies, we think twice.
Would you rather:
- Spend $25 dollars on all of that food where most of the profits are going to large super market chains?
- Or, spend an extra $5 to know that your money is going into the pockets of hard working individuals who are actually doing the back-breaking work so you can eat?
If we want to live and protect our planet, we have to change our mind about food. It’s time to get back to our roots and eat in accordance to nature, not in spite of it. Farmers markets are the best way to get started.
Shout out to my photographer Gilbert Rivera for all the great pics!