RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Spring is in the air, and that means local farmers are starting to harvest their delicious, nutritious crops, often selling them directly to consumers at a market near you. And buying local organic food is more important for our health than ever. Just last week, the President's Cancer Panel recommended that Americans start eating food grown without chemical pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, and hormones. Local farmer's markets give consumers an opportunity to buy directly from local sustainable farmers. Plus, there's nothing like being able to talk to the person who grows your food. As one sustainable-farm expert likes to say, "Local farmers are not in the business of poisoning the neighbors they sell to." Plus, those farmers eat the food they grow—how's that for accountability?
More about farmer's markets:
Six Ways to Make the Most of Your Local Farmer’s Market
USDA Wants You to Buy Local Food
Where to Find ‘Non-Anonymous’ Food
Save Money and Eat Healthy, Tasty Food
Top Ten Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Farmer’s Market
Here's how to make the most of your farmer's market experience.
• Find a true farmer's market. Most people going to farmer's markets expect local, fresh food. However, some markets allow nonfarming vendors to sell produce grown far away—sometimes in other countries, where chemical laws are very lax. If you're looking for local, organic produce, you should find out if your local farmer's market is a producer-only market for the most part, meaning it's area farmers selling their goods directly to consumers. A good way to do this is to ask to talk to the farmer who grew the food at each booth. If you're not sure where your nearest market is, check LocalHarvest.org or the United States Department of Agriculture's farmer's market site.
• Gear up. Our society uses one trillion plastic bags a year, and many of them wind up littering our land and oceans. Consider making a one-time investment in reusable produce bags to protect your purchese and a market basket in which to carry everything, so you can bypass plastic bags and other throwaway containers for good. Besides avoiding waste, a good market basket is more comfortable to hold and can be packed more efficiently than a fistful of plastic shopping bags. If you buy fruit or eggs in cartons, ask the vendor if you can return them for reuse the following week.