National Farmers’ Market Week was held in recognition of the increasingly important role farmers’ markets play in our local and national food supply. The number of farmers’ markets operating across the country has nearly doubled in the last 5 years and there were more than 8,000 farmers’ markets operating in 2013.
Here in Arizona, there are almost 100 farmer’s markets open for business all across the state. While some of our markets close down in during the hottest parts of the summer, the fall harvest season is right around the corner and the availability of everything from produce to dairy products will increase over the next couple weeks.
If you are new to the farmers’ market shopping, take this week as a great opportunity to check out your local market to see what kinds of fresh Arizona products you can get. We make it easy to find a market close to you by searching Fill Your Plate’s farmers’ market listing.
Not sure a farmers’ market sounds like your ‘thing’? Here’s how local farmers’ markets benefit you and your community:
- When you shop at local farmers’ markets or request local produce and meat at your grocery store, it boosts the local economy and makes it possible for farmer’s to continue to produce food locally.
- Shopping at the farmers’ market means you are getting the freshest food possible.
- Farmers’ markets make it easier to eat according to the season.
- Food from the farmers’ market can even be less expensive than the same food imported from somewhere else because of decreased transportation costs and less middle men taking a cut between the producer on the farm and you, the consumer.
If you are planning your first trip to a farmers’ market or if you have been in the past, but didn’t have a great experience, here are some tips to help you make the most of this fantastic local resource.
- Get there early. Unlike grocery stores, the farmers at the market generally have a limited amount of each thing they are selling and if you have specific things you are looking for or if you want to have the biggest selection, go when the market opens.
- Manage expectations. When you get ready to go to the market, think seasonal and local. You are not likely to find exotic fruits or out of season vegetables like you would in the grocery store.
- Bring your reusable shopping bags. While some vendors at the market will have bags you can use to carry your purchases, not everyone will provide a bag with your purchase.
- Bring cash. With the increased availability of pay via mobile phone apps, more farmers’ market vendors are accepting credit and debit cards than ever before, but you are still going to find many stalls that only take cash. Plus, paying with cash doesn’t cost you more but it does cost them less as even the mobile phone options charge a fee for each transaction.
- The Changing Face of the Farmer’s Market (fillyourplate.org)
- Ask a Farmer: Should We Get Away From Industrial Farming and Back to the Family Farm? (fillyourplate.org)
- Arizona Food Prices are Up 6% in the Third Quarter of 2013 (fillyourplate.org)