The Most Wonderful Time of the Year - Farmers Market Launch Time
Mar 30, 2015
The Charleston metro area has a wealth of resources to connect consumers with locally-sourced food and other products.
The saying goes, “Know Your Farmer” in order to really know where your food is coming from. Farmers Markets provide an incredible community resource for doing just that – providing the consumer an opportunity to meet the people growing their food. When Lowcountry Local First started in 2007, there were only a handful of Farmers Markets, and now that number has grown to more than 10 in the metro area. There are plenty of reasons to shop at the farmers market:
1. Support Family Farms
With large agribusiness dominating food production in the United States, small family farmers have a hard time earning a living in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and helps them succeed in today’s globalized economy. You play an important role in ensuring that local farmers can continue farming for the community.
2. Eat Seasonally
Food at the farmers market comes and goes with the season, and for this reason it is always fresh and delicious. By eating with the season you reconnect with the cycle of nature in your region. It can help bring back our awareness of the earth, the weather and the turning of the seasons as you anticipate asparagus in the spring, savor ripe tomatoes in summer and bake with winter squash in the fall.
The fruits and vegetables available at the market are the freshest and tastiest available. The food is real and fresh from the farm, sometimes picked as early as that same morning. There is no long-distance shipping, no chemicals to simulate the ripening process and no sitting for weeks in storage.
4. Know your Farmers
Shopping at the farmers market is by far the best way to connect with where your food comes from. Meeting and talking to food artisans and farmers is a rare opportunity to learn more about how and where the food is produced. You’re also likely to learn different cooking tips and recipes since many of the farmers at market are passionate cooks of the food they produce.
5. Good for your Health
Much of the food found in conventional grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and genetic modification. Some of it has been irradiated, waxed or gassed in transit. These practices are shown to have negative effects on human health. In contrast, most food at the farmers market is minimally processed and many farmers put in the extra effort to grow the most nutritious produce possible using sustainable techniques, harvesting right before market and growing heirloom varieties.
6. Discover Variety
Another benefit to shopping at the farmers market is the amazing variety of produce you won’t find in the normal supermarket. Produce like red carrots, shiitake mushrooms and heirloom tomatoes gives you a chance to enjoy the biodiversity of our region.
7. Protect the Environment
Food in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. This requires large amounts of natural resources, contributes to pollution and generates trash with excessive packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses more resources than sustainable farming and contributes to polluting water, land and air with harmful agricultural byproducts. Local farmers transport their food shorter distances and generally grow with methods that minimize impact on the environment.
8. Connect with your Community
The farmers market is a great place to meet up with friends, bring your children or get a taste of small-town life. Supporting your local farmers market grows your community and turns shopping into a pleasure rather than a chore. Meet your farmers, learn about foods in the area, catch up with friend and get your children involved!
9. Promote Humane Treatment of Animals and Workers
At the farmers market you can find meats, cheeses and eggs from animals raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green pasture and enjoyed natural lives, and have lived free from the unnatural living conditions of feedlots and cages characteristic of large scale agriculture.
10. Support the Local Economy
Shopping at the farmers market helps to build a local economy made of real people you know. Instead of supporting large corporations based in other cities, states or countries, food from the farmers market travels through fewer hands so more of the money goes to the people growing it. You can make an important economic impact by buying from producers who practice social and environmental justice with their business.
A List of Farmers Market Openings:
Bluffton Farmers Market – March 19th
Charleston Farmers’ Market – April 4th
Colleton Farmers’ Market – May 10th
Daniel Island Farmers’ Market – May 7th
Freshfield’s Village Farmers’ Market – June 1st
Goose Creek Farmers’ Market – April 11th
Johns Island “Homegrown” Sustainable Farmers’ Market – year round
Mt. Pleasant Farmers’ Market – April 7th
MUSC Farmers’ Market – year round at Ashley River Tower and at 171 Ashley Ave the Horseshoe
Summerville Farmers’ Market – April 4th
During Eat Local Month, Lowcountry Local First will provide a variety of opportunities for community members to connect with local farms, restaurants, and food businesses, including:
April 1-30: Eat Local Challenge
April 26: Chef’s Potluck at Middleton Place
Image #1: Spade and Clover Gardens
Image #2: Meg Moore of Dirt Hugger Farm