Summer is around the corner and that means the return of local farmers markets. In Frederick County, farmers markets are held periodically throughout the week. With a wide variety of produce and vegetables, there is something for everyone. What people may not understand is that buying local benefits the consumer and the environment in many ways.
Transportation is a hidden economic and environmental cost when it comes to industrialized food production. Food is hauled hundreds and thousands of miles in order for it to reach its destination. That is a lot of fuel, whether it be by truck, train, or airplane. All of that fuel being burned adds to the growing concern surrounding air pollution. Fossil fuels, like gasoline, contribute excess carbon dioxide to the atmosphere when burned. With farmers markets, the food is local and doesn’t have to be trucked in from unknown locations. The mystery of where the food came from is reduced, while assuring the consumer the food is fresh and hasn’t been aging during tractor trailer transport.
Most consumers do not have knowledge of how their food is produced. Grocery store shelves are stacked high of packaged, processed foods that potentially have harmful effects on the body. Much of the food seen today is treated with unhealthy chemicals during the production phase. With locally grown food, you don’t have to worry about it coming from a large processing plant, hundreds of miles away.
A huge benefit of local farmers markets is that the farmer receives the money made from his personal crops. He doesn’t have ties to a contract associated with an industrialized company. Money stays circulating in the neighborhood and community with farmers markets. According to an article published in The Washington Post, “For every dollar consumers spend on food, only 7.8 cents goes to farmers…” (Caitlin Dewey). The large industrial companies are receiving around 92 cents per dollar off the farmer. A lot of crops may be grown, but 8 cents doesn’t compare to the time and money spent working towards their harvest. Farmers markets ensure that profit will be reinvested into producing next year’s crops.
In Frederick County, the amount of farmland is diminishing as urban sprawl takes over. Before we know it, the distinguished individual towns will merge and become part of Frederick. Supporting local farmers markets will help prevent disappearance of farmland, while preserving Frederick County’s rich agricultural history. As long as our farmers can continue to provide for themselves and the community while making profit, we can help preserve the rural areas.
Through buying farmer’s products, we are giving them feedback and showing our appreciation for their work. The more support received, the more likely the farmer is to return the following year.
The largest benefit of local farmers markets is the quality of the food. Produce and fruits are picked right in season, and you don’t have to worry about whether it is fresh or not. Fresh produce usually tastes better and provides more nutritional benefits. Frozen veggies do not compare to fresh veggies purchased at a farmers market.
I encourage you to find your nearest farmers market and check it out! Farmers Markets have a kid-friendly atmosphere, so bring the whole family. In addition to cash and credit cards, some farmers even accept SNAP and WIC benefits.
Some nearby farmers markets to consider visiting this summer are: Emmitsburg: Fridays, June 22-September 21, located at 302 S. Seton Avenue, 3:00-6:00 p.m.; Thurmont: Saturdays, June 2-September 22, located at Municipal Parking Lot, South Center Street, 9:00 a.m.-noon; Frederick Farmers Market at Eveready Square & Shab Row: Thursdays, May 31-September 27, located in Downtown Frederick, 113 North East Street, Church Street & East Street, Frederick, 3:00-6:00 p.m.; Field Fresh Farmers Market: Saturdays, April 28-November 17, Holiday Markets: December 1, 8, 15, located at the Frederick Fairgrounds, 797 E. Patrick Street, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.