Sometimes, small really is beautiful.
Especially when it comes to sourcing what we eat. Hands down, the shopping experience at the farmers’ market always gets more thumbs up than throwing our dollars at the big, ever-growing corporate chains. Each and every time you visit a farmers’ market and spend a little of your hard earned cash, the entire community wins big. You walk away with some amazing local products while your local producers walk away to spend your money within your shared community. Everybody walks away connected and happy that they have played an important part in some one else’s day.
Here in Victoria, BC, we are about six weeks into farmers’ market season, and from the very first market in May, shoppers and vendors alike have been coming out in droves. Farmers’ markets are a BIG THING, rapidly growing to fulfill the consumers’ demand for more authenticity and connection in every purchase they make. If you haven’t already discovered the joy of the weekly farmers’ market, I am here to convince you that you’re missing out and you should definitely grab some reusable shopping bags and a handful of cash, and start a new shopping habit you won’t regret.
James Bay Market
7 EXCELLENT REASONS TO HOTFOOT IT TO YOUR LOCAL FARMERS’ MARKET:
- The Greenhouse Effect
OK, so you’ve got a green thumb and you like to grow your own veggies. Well, most of us backyard gardeners have to wait patiently to bring our hard work to fruition later in the summer. At the farmers’ market, you get a sneak produce preview from the local farmers who own and operate greenhouses. Here in BC, we’ve been enjoying tomatoes and peppers, eggplant and asparagus, and greens of all varieties since the start of May. Let me recommend that you get to your market early in the day, as the farmers tend to sell out quickly.
- The Great Outdoors
After months of trudging through the cold aisles of your neighbourhood supermarket, you now get to do your shopping al fresco. Take that step from fluorescent lights into the sunshine. Soak up that Vitamin D. Smell the fresh breeze. Look up and enjoy the birds soaring above. Absolutely every scientific study ever conducted on the health benefits of being outdoors concurs that it is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental well-being. At the farmers’ market you get to boost your health while getting groceries.
- Connect With Your Community
The farmers’ market isn’t just about watching vegetables grow and exchange hands, it’s also about growing relationships. When you attend your local farmers’ market every week, you get to know the vendors, the musicians and your fellow shoppers. It starts with a ‘hello’ or a nod of the head, but as the season progresses, those familiar faces turn into friendly faces. When the market season starts the following year, there is always a sense of joy as old friends come together again after the winter hiatus.
- Boost Your Local Economy
You’ve seen the meme about how shopping at a small independent business helps a family pay for music lessons, sends a kid to camp, pays the household rent, etc. rather than adding to the massive coffers of yet another CEO. I can’t stress enough how true this is and how important it is to keep this in mind when spending your money. Whether you’re buying a hand-made craft or a pint of strawberries, every penny spent at the farmers’ market goes directly to the maker, baker, or grower of what you purchase. Every time you spend money at the farmers’ market, you are playing an important part in keeping your local economy alive and well and supporting the growth of independent businesses. It is a powerful action to keep your neighbourhood alive and well.
- Save the Planet
Let’s face it - we all have to do whatever we can to save our beleaguered planet. There is so much we can’t do, but there’s plenty we can do. This teeny action of choosing to buy locally produced food and crafts is actually huge. Why buy strawberries that were grown 1,500 miles away on industrial farms, picked by oppressed labourers, then freighted to your town when you can buy much nicer, fresher strawberries from a farmer who lives just up the road? Not only do the local strawberries create a significantly smaller carbon footprint, but, more and more small scale growers are realizing the benefit of not spraying their crops with nasty toxins, and that’s better for us the consumer as well as for the planet.
- Reduce Waste, Reduce Expenses
Over the years, bit by bit, the grocery industry has added more and more packaging to everything we buy. You can now actually buy bananas in hard plastic, banana-shaped containers. Sigh. Some of us are hardcore recyclers, who optimistically believe that as we sort out our garbage into the correct blue and green bins, it will avoid sitting in landfill for the rest of eternity. Lots of others either don’t have the recycling option available or just can’t be bothered. Generally speaking, the vendors at your local farmers’ market will keep packaging to a minimum, thus, reducing garbage waste.
Shopping at the farmers’ market can also help you stop wasting money on rotting vegetables. The produce you purchase at the farmers’ market is super fresh and will not turn into sludge within hours of hitting your fridge shelf, saving you money.
- Fresh is Best!
I’m one of those hard-nosed mothers who make my children wait for local berries. Beside the fact that I can’t bear to contribute to the environmental nightmare caused by unnecessary shipping when I can avoid it, the fact of the matter is that the fresher the berries, the better they taste. Same goes for pretty much all food – fresh is best.
One of the many displays of fabulous fresh seasonal veggies at a market stall.
Whether you’re a veteran frequenter of the farmers’ market, or you have suddenly been inspired by this article to try for the first time, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Even more, we would love to see your photos. Show us what you bought. Post a pic of your favourite vendor (be sure to tag them) on our FaceBook page .
Send a selfie of you at your local farmers’ market.