You’ve seen the folding tables. You’ve seen the pop-up tents. And you’ve seen the growing crowds. We’re talking, of course, about farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets have soared in popularity lately and have more than quadrupled in number since 1994. So, what’s grabbing people’s interest? Read on to find out why so many Americans are falling in love with this warm-weather weekend staple.
Trying out several different farmers’ markets is a great way to get out and explore the communities outside of your neighborhood. Below is a list of some of our favorite markets to get you started. Be sure to check out their websites for details, as most of these markets are only open one day per week and when weather permits, and their list of vendors is likely to change weekly.
As farmers’ markets continue to grow, so does the definition of what a farmers’ market actually is. Traditionally speaking, this type of market has—at the very minimum—consisted of local vendors selling farm-fresh produce. But oftentimes they will expand to include butchers, bakers, jewelers, and other artisans. Some of the larger markets even have food trucks, live music, and activities. So, you never know exactly what you’ll find. And that’s a big part of the fun!
Have you ever heard the term “food miles?” That’s the distance the food has to travel from wherever it was grown to the customer. And when you go to a farmers’ market, the “food miles” are usually pretty low, because the vendors are all local. That means the food has a shorter commute, avoids the cross-country trip on a refrigerated truck, and is typically way fresher.
In recent years, the largest retail chains have been posting record profits. Smaller farmers, on the other hand, have found the past few decades to be a bit of a challenge. So, buying your food from a local farmers’ market is a great way to help preserve their way of life. You’re supporting a local business, pumping money back into your community, and helping smaller, often family-run professions survive. You’ll love the produce, but you’ll also love the way buying local makes you feel.
We all have a hairdresser, a pharmacist, and a mechanic. And those relationships are part of what makes your city feel like your home. You can find that same sense of community by heading out to your neighborhood farmers’ market. You’ll see a recurring cast of characters both selling and buying each week. And a lot of people find a sense of comfort in that social infrastructure. You may even make new friends to invite over for dinner (cooked using the food you bought at the market, of course)!
If you’re anything like us, the weekly trip to the grocery store can seem like a bit of a chore. There’s something about the long lines, fluorescent lights, and muzak that’s just off putting. But the farmers’ market is often outdoors and creates a festive, invigorating atmosphere. It’s a nice change of pace that ends up feeling less like an errand and more like a fun outing. We challenge you to find someone at a farmers’ market who’s in a bad mood!
The biggest grocery store chains can really work some miracles to bring you options from all over the country. But that comes with an environmental cost. There’s a lot of packaging, fuel, and energy that goes into getting all these items from here to there. Farmers’ markets, however, usually have a smaller environmental footprint and go a little easier on the planet.
Farmers’ markets give you a fun and fresh alternative to shopping at supermarkets. You’re getting outdoors. You’re supporting small businesses. And you’re contributing to a sense of community for yourself and your neighbors. So, pick a day and check out one (or several) of these local farmers’ markets. You never know exactly what you’ll find. But from the moment you walk in, the treasure hunt begins!