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Why farmers’ markets are important

Jerry Ann HebronBy Jerry Ann Hebron
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Americans have come to know farmers’ markets as outdoor markets that are held so that farmers can sell their fresh produce to consumers. Farmers’ markets are seeing growth both in the United States and also in parts of Europe. They’re known as having flexible standards, with some imposing strict rules for prices, while others allow a more lenient condition for their vendors.

A few reasons people shop at farmers’ markets, and why you should too, have to do with the freshness of the produce along with the added benefit of helping to support local farmers. All of the produce bought at any given farmer’s market is grown locally. Following are reasons these community jewels are important and why we should support them.

– Helping Local Farmers

The first reason you should shop at farmers’ markets has nothing to do with the fresh quality of the produce. It is making sure that these local farmers can continue operations. Since the produce is grown locally, you are supporting the network of local farmers by buying your produce at farmer’s markets. This is important for the most immediate reason of doing your part to help ensure that these farmers can continue their local growing operations. Typically, the wholesale prices farmers get for their produce is quite low; consequently, these farmers can then take their produce and sell it directly to you, bypassing a middle man like a store altogether. This also results in better deals for you, the consumer.

– Quality of the Food

Because of how farmers’ markets often feature produce and food that is grown both naturally and organically, both taste and quality are superior to other outlets. Farmers who sell their produce at farmers’ markets are able to retain the nutritional content of their products, pick their produce at the very peak of its flavor, and also offer you hard-to-get foods, such as raw milk. As an additional bonus, the food they sell does not need to travel very far to get to your table (basically, just their farms to the market to your table), which helps to ensure that the food does not get damaged or bruised as it sometimes does when being transported to grocery stores.  You the consumer also get to establish an personal relationship with the grower.

– Environmental Reasons

By your shopping at the farmer’s markets deals with the environment. The amount of fossil fuels is drastically cut since the time of travel is reduced in the delivery of the produce from farms to your dinner table. Studies have also indicated that the network of managed and sustainable farms that comprise the backbone of farmer’s markets help to both conserve water resources as well as the purity of the soil. This factor helps wildlife by helping to preserve its habitat.

– Support the Local Economy

The final reason you should shop at your local farmer’s market is to support your local economy.  We here in the City have experienced the decline of jobs and local businesses.  Let’s change  this decline and start to recirculate our spending dollars back into our community and help to rebuild them.

Jerry Ann Hebron is the executive director of Northend Christian Community Development Corporation, which produces the Oakland Avenue Farmers Market.  She is also a member of the Detroit Food Policy Council. For more information visit  www.northendcdc.org

www.oafm.org or call 313.649.7756.

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