As temperatures increase and the working pace slows down, along with the budding flowers of May come the bustling crowds of local farmers markets. Tents filled with colorful bouquets of Jersey Fresh greens, fruits, vegetables, flower arrangements, and sampling stations galore line streets and parking lots statewide. Regardless of how often it’s held, there are many reasons to support your local farmers market whether it’s celebrating the produce of the summer or sampling the merchandise of local artisans.
1. Everything Has a Story.
When it comes to shopping for seasonal produce, we find it easiest to listen to the wise words of NBC’s ‘Produce Pete’ and peruse the grocery store using our newfound knowledge. While this may be one way to discover seasonal produce, we believe that buying locally isn’t always about the food you find, but rather the way that it has been sourced and the story that lies behind it.
2. The Produce is Fresher.
As New Jersey bountifully reminds us every summer that it is, in fact, the Garden State, finding Jersey Fresh produce and learning about its “roots” could potentially make the search for locally and ethically raised food all the more enticing. Not to mention, locally-sourced produce usually tastes better, since items are typically sold within 24 hours from the time that they have been harvested.
3. Become Immersed in Your Community.
Farmers markets tend to display the crafts of local farms and eateries, many of which encourage customers to sample their products. This is a great way to engage in conversation with local artisans, chefs, and fellow community members. These connections can help you find new places to eat around town, recipes to try, or spark new interests.
4. Support Sustainable Farming Practices.
Another reason to eat seasonal and local produce is to support sustainable and nutritional farming practices. Food that is harvested seasonally tends to retain more nutrients than their out-of-season counterparts and are treated with less, if any, preservatives and pesticides in order to maintain the full flavor and nutritional value. And best of all, fruits and vegetables that ripen naturally on the vine of their parent plant have more flavor.
So as you begin the search for the best local produce this summer, why not start at your town’s farmers market? Participation in events like these support smaller businesses that tend to have more ethical principles, while also offering snapshots of the culture in your hometown. This summer, consider swapping your shopping cart for sunglasses, and enjoy a stroll at your local farmers market!