As summer comes to a close, you’ll start to find that the produce from farmers markets starts to change. We’ll start seeing fewer tomatoes and more radishes, less peppers and more kale. Although all of us would love for strawberries to be available throughout the year at farmers markets, eating seasonally and buying produce from the farmers market has a number of benefits for you.
Locally grown food is more flavorful and nutritious.
At farmers markets, you’ll be buying produce that has been picked at its peak ripeness and freshness. Many of our farmers work hard to pick vegetables and fruits at the perfect time; this means that the produce has often been picked within 24 hours of getting to the market stands. Conventional produce (like winter tomatoes you’ll find at the grocery store) are usually picked well before they’re ripe, transported thousands of miles and sprayed with synthetic ethylene gas to ripen them in warehouses. They might sit for days or weeks before they hit the shelves of the grocery stores.
When your produce is picked at its peak freshness, it contains the highest level of nutrient. As vegetables and fruits sit and wait to hit the shelves, they lose more and more nutrients. Many of our farmers travel less than 100 miles to bring produce to market, and some of our farmers farm right in Atlanta!
More diversity in foods means more nutrients
At a farmers’ stand, you might find eight different types of tomatoes and seven different types of peppers. You might find five different varieties of kale. You might find yellow and purple carrots along with the familiar orange carrots. Did you know that purple carrots are not only rich in Vitamin A and beta-carotenes, but also rich in anthocyanin, an anti-oxidant? Anthocyanin is a phytonutrient that gives vegetables and plants blue/purple tint, and you won’t find it in your every day orange carrots.
Not only is diversity good for the environment, it’s good for your health. Different varieties of vegetables makes for a diverse number of nutrients that help nurture your body.
Farmers markets build community
With a frequent chef demos to educate people on ways to cook their produce, children’s activities, and outreach events, farmers markets aren’t just about bodily nourishment—they’re also about communal nourishment. Our farmers and producers work hard to bring healthy and fresh food to the community, but it’s ultimately about creating a place where the community can feel like its their own. Whether it’s doubling SNAP/EBT benefits for our customers through our partnership with Wholesome Wave, educational outreach at senior centers and schools, or creating new points of access to fresh food (like the MARTA Fresh Market), nourishment doesn’t just stop at the heirloom tomatoes.
Come out to see us this week and let us know how the farmers market helps nourish you and your family!