Seeing as how there seems to be a grocery store on every third corner here in Los Angeles, one can understand why most people buy all their food from them. But we make a conscious decision to buy as much produce and fruit from the Farmer’s Market twice a week for few reasons, and none of them are for convenience. Because the markets are only on Wednesday and Saturday, we cannot run out and buy lettuce for a salad on a Monday…there is no Farmer’s Market that day. Plus, we need to get other things at the store that cannot be found at the market, so it cannot be because it is convenient. So why do we buy from them?
At the market, I can get organic anything and not pay a premium for it. The farmers that grow organic fruits and vegetables grow it because they feel it is important, not only because of the bottom line. Because of this, I usually pay less for my food at the Farmer’s Market than I would at the grocery store.
I am helping to make a difference in that farmer’s life. Because I am paying the farmer direct, he or she gets what the food is worth, not what some grocery store has decided they would pay for it. The money goes direct to the farmer, so I know they are getting their fair share.
I can talk to and ask questions of the “creator” of my food. When was the last time the kid in the grocery store knew which avocados were good to eat, which tomato to recommend for a certain salad or variety of apple is the sweetest? Talking to the people that make the food gives you an insight into the food itself and you can learn a lot just by asking a few questions.
It brings everyone in the community together. Communities are very important to society; feeling like we belong to something brings us comfort. So seeing the same farmers and the same people at the market each week fosters a sense of community that the grocery store cannot give us.
Lastly, it forces me to consider where my food comes from. Buying everything in the grocery store, the origin of the food gets lost in the equation. Oranges from Australia, lettuce from Mexico…why does this stuff have to travel so far to get to my plate when I can buy it all locally from the farms in my region? Buying direct gives me a sense of what is in season and what I should be eating at this time of year.
If you don’t shop at your local Farmer’s Market, I highly recommend you give it a shot. The people are great and the farmers are always more than happy to fill you in on the food that you are eating. I realize that in some places around the country there are no year-round markets, but that shouldn’t stop you from shopping at them from May-October. Go on, support a local farmer if you can instead of some big invisible corporation only tending to their bottom line. The farmers in your area deserve your business!