Bring Your Basket: We're Going to the Farmer's Market
Welcome to the farmer's market! A produce lover's dream-scape brimming with with every color under the sun and brimming with people milling about enjoying everything – from the food for sale to the people selling it. Rapidly growing in popularity and demand, farmer's markets have been on the rise since the Department of Agriculture starting keeping track of how many there were. They are the perfect solution to a wide variety of problems poised by the massive, lumbering, destructive system we call the food industry and provide fresh, local produce, and perhaps more importantly, they provide fresh, local community growth. And in these rather bleak times? That can be a brilliant glimpse of sun through dark clouds.
Farmer's market's provide a wide array of benefits to a community. There is obviously fresh produce. But there are also wonderful, small benefits that might go unnoticed. The economic boom and the strengthened communal bond are some of the best things to come out of a local market but there are small almost untraceable bonuses that make markets all the more magical.
1. They help share and spark ideas.
One of the best parts of going to a market is the people. When you're buying food, you're right there with the person who cared for it and tended it until it was ready to be put in your hands. That kind of connection is a wonderful magic. It's not like avoiding eye contact at a grocery store as the cashier slowly rings you up – rather this is a real person with real input on the food you are eating. Ask them for recipes. Give them a few of yours. Debate ideas for how best to use the produce. They will appreciate the inspiration and the help just as much as you. They may have ideas that would never have crossed your mind while you, in turn, may surprise them by giving them their new favorite dish. The human contact is a beautiful thing that you just won't find at the LED lit store.
2. They give the local economy a boost.
Simply bringing people together isn't all markets do. They have far-reaching economic benefits. The small range of farmer's markets keeps jobs local. They keep money circulating in the community and that means a wider variety of options for you as the consumer. Competition is the blood of capitalism and with the current food industry there is very little blood flow left. Farmer's markets provide a bright and shining relief to the worn and settled channels of processed food that we are used to. This competition provides consumers with more bang for their buck and the farmers themselves find their incomes growing. This all leads to more strength in the local economy, because everything stays in the family. What helps you, helps the farmer, and what helps the farmer, helps the community. This network of assistance means a stronger town, city – stronger people.
3. They're green.
Farmer's markets are exceptionally green. When you bring your own basket, so you can load up on all your favorite seasonal veggies without needing plastic or paper bags, what could be better? Food travels less distance to get to your plate, it is less likely to be covered with strong, toxic pesticides, and it has been grown to full ripeness... not packaged and chemically ripened on the way there. It hasn't been processed or over-grown, which leeches it of nutrients. Not to mention it tastes delicious. The food isn't coated in plastic packaging, which only gets tossed away, and it's sold whole, which reduces the amount that the food has been handled by other machines or hands – less chance of harmful bacteria. In a world whose food system is run like a metal and smokestack factory, there is nothing factory about farmer's markets. They are a breath of fresh, natural air in a world of processed, packaged food that is kept alive with pesticides and growth hormones.
4. They're liberators.
This sounds a bit revolutionary, but perhaps, farmer's markets are a bit revolutionary. They connect people on a level that isn't formed around the capitalistic structure of commerce and really, you can sell food off the side of the road. You can sell food anywhere there is food and hungry people willing to pay. The Russian serfs, after their liberation in the Russian Revolution of 1914, first developed markets that sold... produce. The ability to own and sell their own food was a new and wondrous concept to these people who had been all but enslaved to the estates which they lived on. It is a powerful thing, a community growing its own food. It blurs the lines of class, race, gender... you name it. Everyone eats.