Farmers’ Markets are markets where you can buy fruit, vegetables, cheeses, meats, yogurts, juices directly from the farmer themselves, rather than through a retailer.
Typically, they are cheaper than supermarkets because markets cut out the middle man – supermarkets, which take many other factors into account (such as transportation of the produce) when determining the price – and the use little to no packaging.
However, in some cases, farmers’ markets tend to be more expensive – depending on the country and region.
Most importantly, farmers are the ones who grow the nutritious food on our plates and for that we owe them the respect and praise that they deserve. Before buying from them, it is always a good idea to ask a few questions first.
1. How far away is your farm?
The whole point is buying at a farmers’ market is to purchase directly from the farmer themselves and locally.
There is no set definition for what ‘local’ food means, but in the US, local typically means within 100-150 mile radius (161km -242 km).
Certain supermarkets in the UK define it as:
- ASDA: 30 mile radius (48 km)
- Tesco: ‘Produced and sold within a county or neighbouring county in England, or within the country in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.‘
2. When were these harvested?
Usually they are picked that morning but bear in mind that the longer it has been picked, the less nutrients it may have.
3. How long will our produce stay fresh for?
It’s always good to know how long our foods with be fresh for in order to plan your meals. That way we can reduce the food waste we produce and eat food at its’ optimal freshness filled with all its nutrients.
4. Are these organic?
The US Department of Agriculture, states that organic farming should ‘integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.’
The UK’s Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) states that:
‘Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation.
Organic agriculture is a systems approach to production that is working towards environmentally, socially and economically sustainable production. Instead, the agricultural systems rely on crop rotation, animal and plant manures, some hand weeding and biological pest control’.
So, theoretically, eating organic is better for the environment and your health.
5. How do we store it?
Knowing how to best store our food will allow us to make the best of the food you have.
It can help plan your meals by prioritising to eat certain foods, as well as reducing food waste.
They also may have great advice on how to thaw or cook the meat properly.
6. What is the best way to prepare/cook this?
Chances are, you may even come across different types of produce that we are not familiar with – surely the farmer has some new inspiring recipes for you to try, adding variety to your diet and
7. For animal products – What do you feed your animals? Where are they raised?
If you eat and consume animal products, such as meat or dairy, surely the welfare and diet of these animals is of concern. Ask them questions like:
- Are they pasture raised?
- How much time do your animals spend outside?
- What do they eat?
- Are they given antibiotics?
8. May I come visit the farm?
Almost all farmers take pride in their work and enjoy teaching others more about it. Those that have nothing to hide would gladly show you around. That way, you can have your questions answered with first hand evidence. That being said, farmers’ schedules can be quite inflexible so if you do plan on visiting, ask s/he when works for them.
Don’t be afraid to express your gratitude to your local farmers, as they do work hard, rain or shine to provide the delicious food on our plates.