There is nothing quite like wandering around a Farmers Market
being surrounded by the sights, sounds, colors and particularly the aromatic
smells of fresh food, shopping bags bursting at the seams, people walking around
in awe of all the market has to offer, and live music playing.
Stockton Market offers delicacies of the finest products,
not seen in supermarkets or specialty shops:
Food grown in your own community was probably picked within the past day or two. It's crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in from California , Florida , Chile or Holland or wherever is much older - days, sometimes weeks. Farmers markets dramatically reduce the journey that food takes to your table and avoid costly, wasteful packaging and emissions. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality.
Locally grown food is not only affordable, but since it is being purchased soon after harvest, it retains all nutrients. Not only is it healthier but the food you are purchasing is produced by one (or two) artisans, not processed by many (who knows who there are) or by machines in some manufacturing plant (who knows where). At the market you will get to know the artisan, how they produce their goods and exactly what goes into their products. They are proud to offer superb quality goods.
Varieties of fruits & vegetables sold in stores are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously, for a tough skin that can survive packing and shipping; and for an ability to have a long shelf life in the store. Only a handful of hybrid varieties of each fruit and vegetable meet those rigorous demands, so there is little genetic diversity in the plants grown. Local farms, in contrast, grow a huge number of varieties to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colors, and the best flavors. Many varieties are heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation, because they taste good. These old varieties contain genetic material from hundreds or even thousands of years of human selection; they may someday provide the genes needed to create varieties that will thrive in a changing climate.
Large factory-style farms only use genetically modified seeds. Local farmers don't have access to genetically modified seed, and most of them wouldn't use it even if they could. If you are opposed to eating bioengineered food, you can rest assured that locally grown produce was bred the old-fashioned way, as nature intended.
Purchasing food from local farmers supports the local economy and helps farmers to retain their livelihood. With fewer than 1 million Americans now claiming farming as their primary occupation, farmers are a vanishing breed. And no wonder - commodity prices are at historic lows, often below the cost of production. The farmer now gets less than 10 cents of the retail food dollar. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food - which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm, doing the work they love.
When you buy direct from the farmer, you are re-establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower. Farmers markets provide the opportunity to connect with the local families who planted and harvested the food. Knowing the farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the weather, and the miracle of raising food. In many cases, it gives you access to a farm where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture. Relationships built on understanding and trust can thrive. So, stop by a vendorâ€™s booth and feel free to ask questions. Be informed, and get to know who they are.
As the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely. You have probably enjoyed driving out into the country and appreciated the lush fields of crops, the meadows full of wildflowers, the picturesque red barns. That landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about preserving the agricultural landscape. You have to admit we do have amazing views.
Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes, according to several studies. On average, for every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments must spend $1.17 on services, thus requiring higher taxes of all taxpayers. For each dollar of revenue raised by farm, forest, or open space, governments spend 34 cents on services.
A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued. Good stewards of the land grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by their crops. Cover crops also capture carbon emissions and help combat global warming. In addition, the habitat of a farm - the patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings - is the perfect environment for many beloved species of wildlife, including bluebirds, killdeer, herons, bats, and rabbits.
By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food.
So, take home locally grown and normally naturally or organically grown food which just has to be healthier for you.