Isn’t it refreshing to buy fresh fruits and vegetables directly from people who grow them! Farmers’ markets are usually seen once a week in different places and patrons eagerly wait to purchase their weekly quota from here. The primary factors drawing the consumers towards farmers markets as against supermarkets are quality, freshness and prices of the produce.
But, not everybody is willing to take the pains of going to the local market and selecting each vegetable with all the heat, dust and pollution on the roadside. There are several other easier options available to shop for perishables.
Farmers’ markets are slowly diminishing in the wake of modernization. The supermarkets springing up in every nook and corner are eating away the business of the local farmer. Recently, supermarkets have started dictating the demand-supply chain of food products. For e.g. Apples are available almost throughout the year. They prevent us from diversifying our food intake based on climatic and environmental changes thereby ruining the concept of seasonal or local food.
Locally grown fruits and vegetables available directly from the farmers are fresher and reasonably priced since there is no external transportation time and cost involved. Fresh produce grown locally is dependent on the climate that is favourable for its growth and hence best suited to our body during that season. We also get to choose the quantity we wish to buy at one time.
Encouraging the farmers’ markets is both morally and physically important. Promoting farmers’ market not only benefits the farmers but also ensures our good health and longevity. It facilitates an additional source of income, especially for farmers located in small pockets with little access to big city markets. We all depend on agriculture to fulfil our basic necessities. But, like all other fields, agriculture is also plagued by politics. It is even beyond our imagination to understand as to how US politics is dictating our food intake.
Importance of farmers’ markets
Basically farmers’ market is defined as a location where several producers congregate to offer fruits, vegetables, flowers, plants, etc often in public parking lots or at local fairgrounds.
Barring convenience and selection, farmers market fulfil and satisfy all the consumer demands and definitely have greater long term advantages than supermarkets (Rhodus, Schwartz, & Hoskins 1994).
Challenges for farmers markets
- While the farmers markets have started operating on a large-scale, there is definitely some form of regulation required to be able to organize the system. Issues such as who administers the market, who determines who can sell what, and how the market will operate is fundamental to its smooth operation.
- Farmers market calls for direct transaction between producers and buyers without any middle men. In such a situation special attention need to be paid to food safety, liability, competition with local businesses, and selection of vendors.
- With the growing emphasis on food security, farmers markets are also gaining importance. Food security may represent access to adequate nutritious food, freedom from contamination, disease or regular access to locally grown produce to decrease dependency on imported foods which may not be fresh (Hamilton 2002).
Local famers’ markets can serve to ensure these factors. The innumerable diseases people are contracting these days have some latent causes unknown to even experts. Although there is no clear evidence to make a claim, but our observation shows that the growing incidence of cancers and other inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and heart diseases may be due to the large scale use of pesticides and preservatives used for perishable foods, especially those that are imported.
So, be smart – eat local and seasonal!