Ever driven past that farmers market on the corner on the way to the grocery store? Farmer’s markets offer many great benefits not only nutritionally, but also environmentally. Check out these 5 benefits of shopping at a farmers market:

Fresh produce: Brought directly to you from the field, these fruits and vegetables are the freshest you can find. Fruits and vegetables you find in grocery stores are often sprayed with chemicals to simulate the ripening process, whereas fresh produce is allowed to ripen in the field before being brought straight to the market. Produce is shipped all over the United States, resulting in the produce you find in grocery stores to often be bruised or damaged. While some produce you find at a farmers market might be a little deformed due to natural growth, it is of better quality.

Enjoy seasonal produce: The food at the farmers market depends on what produce is specific to that season. This means that the produce at the farmers market is the freshest and best quality. If you are looking for sweet corn in the winter, odds are it will not be the best quality if you find it in a grocery store. The produce sold at the farmers market is at its peak and are organic and non GMO.

Help protect the environment: Shipping produce all over the United States uses natural resources that contribute to pollution. Chemicals used to enhance produce sold in grocery stores contribute to air and water pollution. Shipping large amounts also requires a lot of packaging materials in turn, creating more trash needing to be disposed of. Foods that are sold at farmer’s markets are usually grown in an ecofriendly environment and requires less packaging due to short shipping distances.

Know where your food comes from: Farmers markets allow you to shop for produce locally. Unlike grocery stores that receive shipments of produce form all over, the produce sold at farmer’s markets are usually grown locally, probably by your neighbor. You can find out exactly how and where the food is grown and what chemicals, if any, the use. Chat with the sellers about the growing, harvesting, and transportation process.

Help your community: Shopping locally helps support your community. The amount of family owned farms is decreasing over time, due to the high cost of production and farm maintenance. Shopping at your local farmer’s market allows you to get produce that is not genetically modified while also supporting a local business in your area.

Next time you need produce, head to a local farmers market for friendly faces and the freshest produce. Meet a friend, or bring the kids along to get them involved in nutrition and cooking!

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