It’s Finally Summer!  Say Hello to your local Farmer’s Market!

From parking lots to parks, church grounds to corporate spaces, farmer’s markets are popping up all over the city - do yourself a favour, find one close to you and become a customer.  The produce may be a bit smaller and not quite as shiny and unblemished as the gargantuan version you’ve been buying at your Superstore all winter but it will taste better, be better for you and support the person on the other side of the table looking happy but more than a little bit tired.  Farming is hard relentless work - long days, a short season and increasingly unreliable weather more than ever make this work a labour of love.  By shopping Farmer’s Markets we ensure that they can make a living and stay in business and we also secure our access to a greater variety of foods than the mammoth food companies choose for us to eat.  Aside from that, here are:

5 Reasons why you should discover and shop at your local Farmer’s Market

1.    While there is still a whole lot of squabbling between scientists as to whether or not organics are more nutritious than their pampered cousins there is plenty of evidence that plants that have to fight for survival produce more phenolics. This bears a direct relationship to the increased level of antioxidants contained in that plant- a big part of the reason why your Nutritionist keeps telling you to eat more vegetables.

2.    By avoiding foods that have been sprayed by chemicals you reduce the toxic load on your liver PLUS you reduce the strain that these chemicals place on the environment and wildlife…everybody wins.

3.    Going to Farmer’s Markets allows you to meet and talk to the farmers doing the work - sometimes you may even find produce from farms that, while they may not have the “organic stamp of approval” (which is a contentious and political issue) have still been grown with little if any use of chemicals - this farmer deserves your support too.

4.    Shopping locally reduces the environmental strain of shipping food across the country, continent, globe….plus you get fresher produce - notice how much longer that head of lettuce lasts in your fridge!

5.    Organic produce provides greater nutritional value (yes, I know that people say it doesn’t but just dig around a bit and see who funded the naysaying articles and studies) - common sense tells us that you are what you eat.  The same goes for animals and plants - plants are only as good as the soil they are grown in - by definition, organic and sustainable farming demands that the soil be nourished, crops be rotated etc…to avoid weak vulnerable plants and the emergence of pests ergo, the vegetables and fruits end up richer in nutrients, minerals and antioxidants.

And the BONUS for shopping at Local Farmer’s Markets is access to wild and foraged foods - fiddleheads (long gone now), garlic scapes, ramps (wild leeks), wild mushrooms, wild berries, nettles and wild dandelions to name a few - there is nothing like the taste and nutritional value of truly wild produce that has had to fight for survival in the jungle that is the natural world.  That stand is the scraggly one in the corner, often manned by a disheveled, messy and happy looking person - seek them out and buy their bounty - it will always be worth it!  Even better, make friends and see if they’ll take you along on their next foraging expedition.

One last thing:  Beware the posers!  While I have never spotted them here there is a certain fruit and vegetable stand in Muskoka of all places that gets their produce from the food terminal (!?) and then sets up at weekly Farmer’s Markets and on the side of the road…seriously!  Talk to your farmers…ask the good questions - cheers!!