As the weather warms up, our food choices often become lighter. Salads are craved more and produce is often increased. If you are one of these people who find themselves increasing their fruits and vegetables during this time, do yourself a favor and buy locally. We are lucky to be in an area that offersseveral farmer’s markets. Farmer’s markets often offer cheaper foods that are fresher and give you a better overall shopping experience.
There are several reasons for buying fresh produce at a farmer’s market; one is the taste. Fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market get picked only a few days before, allowing you to experience freshly riped produce as well as higher nutritional contents. When produce is picked, it starts losing it’s nutritional value. Store produce is often picked at least a week before getting to the store. You also get to experience produce that you cannot find in stores, such as heirloom produce. These are particular produce that are passed through generations of farmers because of their good taste. Farmer’s markets also only sell what is in season, reducing typical chemicals found on most produce in stores.
Another valuable benefit of buying from a farmer’s market is that they often offer cheaper prices per quantity than the store. Farmer’s markets typically used to only take cash, however, as they grow many of them now accept credit cards as well as SNAP and WIC cards. Buying locally will also help keep the money that you spend closer to your neighborhood. Furthermore, since the produce doesn’t have to travel far from farm to market, you cut out a lot of the transportation costs. You also decrease fossil fuels, pesticides and vehicle pollution. Finally, you receive the benefit of shopping outdoors in the fresh air. Taking your time, strolling through a farmer’s market is less stressful than shopping at a store.
Farmer’s markets are great opportunities to have fresher, ripe foods for you and your family. You also get an added bonus of more personal interactions with the people growing the food. This will allow you to find out their growing processes. In most cases, the farmers themselves are the ones at the stands. No one will know their produce better than farmers and they are a great resource to find out cooking tips and meal ideas. Below you can find a list of farmers markets in the Orange County area or you can find one by going to the USDA Farmers Markets Search.