The Benefits Of Farmers Markets Essay

1521 words - 7 pages

Food for Thought
            Farmers markets are places where consumers purchase fresh, locally grown produce directly from the farmers. The number of farmers markets in the United States has grown a whopping 250% since 1994.  The increasing prevalence of local farmers markets is an important step towards a much needed transformation of our country’s food system.  There are numerous environmental, economic, nutritional, and ethical benefits to supporting local farmers markets as opposed to major corporations and supermarkets.
            There are copious environmental advantages of supporting local farmers markets as opposed to large industries. Farmers markets provide locally grown ...view middle of the document...

Farmers markets allow money to circulate locally and provide a large number of jobs to local citizens, rendering them a great economic opportunity for every community. “A dollar spent locally usually generates twice as much income for the local economy” (DeLong). Supermarkets, on the other hand, result in a loss of jobs for the local community. “The National Retail Planning Forum found that there was a net loss of 270 jobs on average each time a superstore opens. A trend towards farmers markets, strengthening local links, can be expected to have net job gains” (Friends of the Earth).
            Locally grown produce from farmers markets provide a wide range of nutritional benefits to the consumer. Primarily, the customer is much more able to find out where their food came from and how it was harvested, which is very important, and often hard to discover about produce from farmers markets.  Secondly, large industries often harvest fruits and vegetables long before they are ripe, and then proceed to gas them to make them ripe prior to putting them on the shelves. This process alters both the taste and nutritional value of the food! “Once produce is picked, the vitamins, minerals, and fibers start to break down naturally. Supermarkets take an average of two weeks before their produce ends up on the shelves, so the nutrient loss is significant” (Norberg-Hodge).  Produce from farmers markets have been given ample time to ripen and develop prior to harvesting, and therefore contain a higher level of vitamins and minerals and great nutritional value. “These farmers markets are bringing Americans healthy food so we can be a healthy nation, instead of the undernourished and obese kids and adults that President Obama worries so much about us becoming” (Ayers). In addition to being more nutritious, produce from farmers markets have been proven to taste better, too! “At least six taste test studies cited by Hughes and Mattson have shown that consumers typically prefer produce sold at farmers’ markets to that from other sources. Consumers cite freshness, taste, appearance, and nutritive value as reasons for preferring farmers market produce” (Friends of the Earth). 
             Many customers of supermarkets and large industries claim that buying food from farmers markets is “just too expensive.” However, research shows that this is simply a widely held misconception.  Bard College graduate student Jake Robert Claro produced a study for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont to put this myth to the test. He and his team compared the prices of food items from ten different farmers markets against those from large-scale supermarkets, and came to a surprising conclusion. “The findings of this study have shown that prices at farmers markets are in many cases competitive with prices at grocery stores” (Estabrook). The majority of produce from farmers markets was actually 10 to 20 percent cheaper than those from supermarkets, with the exception...

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