Enjoy the benefits of eating local

Published May 8, 2013 at 10:55 am (Updated May 8, 2013 at 10:55 am)

Spring has finally sprung, and soon, so too will farmers markets. It seems that in the past few years, as the public has become more and more conscious of what they are putting into their bodies, the popularity of area markets increases. But, the benefits of shopping for fruits, vegetables, breads, meats, cheeses and more at area farmers markets goes way beyond simply knowing where your food comes from.

For one, supporting local farmers is vital. Buying local ensures that the money you spend stays in the local economy. Local food is obviously fresher than food that has been shipped across the country, or from another country all together. As an added bonus, buying local food reduces your carbon footprint.

In addition to finding better quality products at farmers markets, it is often cheaper. Compare big, beautiful onions at three for $1 to subpar, often beat up looking onions that are $2 and $3 per pound at grocery stores.

Buying local also means that you know more about your food. The farmers can tell you if pesticides or chemicals were used on the produce, and they can also tell you if their meat is grass-fed or hormone or antibiotic-free – details that are important, and often lacking at big-box stores.

Offerings at area farmers markets will change as spring turns to summer and summer to fall, ensuring a variety of options. Doctors, farmers and chefs will all tell you – eating what is in season is the epitome of healthful. If it’s not too late, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription is a great way to sample the region’s offerings all season long.

Thanks to a new endeavour, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or more commonly, food stamps), many farmers markets are accepting this method of payment, ensuring that people of all income levels can eat healthfully and locally – that sure beats buying cases of soda or bags of chips at the grocery store.

And, as more markets pop up, there’s sure to be one near you. We encourage everyone to make a stop to their local farmers market to see – and taste – the difference.

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