Why We Love Farmers’ Markets
What’s not to love?
The Kootenay Co-op supports Farmers’ Markets by supporting the West Kootenay EcoSociety (they’re the Organization of the Month this month, so you can support them too!). Farmers’ Markets, like the Downtown Local Market on Wednesdays and the Cottonwood Community Market on Saturdays, connect farmers, artisans and producers directly with community members. Local markets help to move our region toward Kootenay Co-op’s Vision of “thriving communities with resilient food systems, where all people have access to affordable food that is healthy for our bodies, our communities, and the Earth.” There are so many reasons why this is good for you, me and our community, but we’ve whittled it down to eight reasons.
8 Reasons to Support Farmers’ Markets
1. Carbon footprint reduction
- One of the best (and most delicious) ways you can make a dent in your carbon impact is by eating locally. Cutting down on food miles lowers our community’s collective carbon footprint by reducing food transportation and refrigeration.
- Many of our market farmers are organic or are at least environmentally conscientious. Using integrated pest management techniques, being water-conscious, focusing on soil health, reducing erosion and promoting biodiversity are also ways agriculture can reduce carbon and water footprints.
2. Food system sustainability
- Farmers’ Markets make our community more food resilient, giving us greater food security (reliable access to good food) and food sovereignty (power over our own food system; the right to healthy and culturally appropriate foods).
- This is especially important in our little mountain city where there is only one main road that are food is trucked in on. We have seen the effects of this particular food system’s vulnerability when there’s been a washout or an avalanche that delays our food trucks and it’s scary. Supporting our local farmers and producers when times are good will help ensure they are there for us when times are bad.
3. Face-to-face connection
- Knowing where (and WHO) your food comes from builds trust, connectedness and community cohesion.
- Ask the questions that matter to you, be that whether a vendor is actively involved in their community, or how a farmer treats their animals. Look them in the eye and find the answers that help you feel good about what you eat.
- A visit to the market averages 10-15 interactions with vendors and other community members making it more like an outing than a chore.
- Farmers’ Markets are a community hub, a place to meet up with friends and get a taste of our thriving community.
4. Food literacy
- Not only can you learn more about where your food comes from and how it’s produced, you can learn about new-to-you foods.
- Market vendors always have great ideas for how best to enjoy their products. Ask them for serving tips or recipe ideas!
5. In-season produce and Farm-to-Table freshness
- Following the seasons with what you put on your plate is a supremely delicious way to make a difference environmentally.
- In-season produce is not only at the peak of its deliciousness, but it is likely healthier too. That’s because the fresher it is, the more nutrient-dense it’s likely to be and it doesn’t get much fresher than your local farmers’ market! Nutrient-rich soil (a major tenet of organic farming) produces nutrient-rich produce. Those nutrients are always more abundant when the produce is harvested and delivered the same day
- Nothing beats a sun-warmed tomato fresh off the vine with your toes in the soil of your backyard garden, but a farm-fresh tomato carefully picked that morning by your local neighbour-farmer comes pretty darn close!
- As stated early, many of the market farm are organic, where farmers support biodiversity on their farms, not only in their crops, but also by providing wildlife corridors and buffer zones.
- Diversifying varieties and crops is better for the soil and also for food security; a pest or drought that devastates one crop, might not impact another.
- Because market farmers don’t need to produce wholesale amounts of any one crop, they have the freedom to test out unique and interesting things, including long-forgotten heirloom varieties. Some of these crops may be better suited to the changing climate. Farmer adaptability will be crucially important in the coming decades.
- Many organic farmers are passionate seed-savers, finding the particular varieties that work best for our regional growing conditions and preserving them for future generations. Biodiversity and seed-saving are critical to food security.
7. Support the local economy
- Buying goods directly from the people who produce them strengthens the economic base of our community by keeping your dollars close to home.
- Keeping our neighbours in business is important… plus, our local farmers are responsible stewards of their land, preserving and safeguarding farmland for generations to come! Again, this makes us more food secure and more resilient as a community.
- Buying directly from the farmer gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, growers selling locally create four times as many jobs as those not selling locally, and return three times as much of their sales to the local economy compared to those who sell through chains.
8. Feel gooooood
- Nourish your body and your soul. Knowing where your food comes from may give you a renewed appreciation for what you put into your body.
- When you shop at our local markets, not only are you supporting local farmers, the local economy, our regional food resiliency and reducing your carbon footprint, you’re also supporting the West Kootenay EcoSociety. The EcoSociety promotes sustainable local food systems, takes action to reduce the crisis of climate chance and preserves wild places, ecosystems, air and water for future generations.
- EcoSociety also participates in the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, which distributes coupons to low-income families and seniors. According to their website, “The coupons may be used to purchase fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, eggs, nuts and herbs at participating BC farmers’ markets. By enabling low-income citizens to purchase fresh food directly from the farmers, the coupon program increases access to healthy food while supporting local producers – double win!”
And if you can’t make it to market that week, or if you can’t find that one special ingredient you need for your new favourite recipe… You know you can always head to your community-owned grocery store which also has a strong focus on organic and True Local, community building, health empowerment, and environmental stewardship.