5 Reasons to Shop at Your Local Farmer's Market

Shopping at your local farmer's market is a great way to spend a summer morning. Along with exploring intoxicating flavors, vibrant colors and earthy aromas, here are a handful of other reasons to visit your local farmer's market.

More: 4 Tips to Buy Local Produce

1. Keep your dollars close to home. When you choose to purchase food from local farms and vendors, you're supporting your local community.

2. Educate yourself. Farmers' markets allow you to take part in a conversation about the food that will later be served on your dinner table. When you visit a booth at the farmer's market, you can ask the farmer where and how your food was grown—and even inquire about cooking techniques and the best storage methods.

3. Enjoy the health benefits. Farmers' markets deliver nutrient-rich, flavorful food harvested a few short hours before you purchase it. And if you stock your refrigerator with nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, picked at their flavor and nutrient peak, you're more likely to include more antioxidant-rich, disease-protective produce in your daily diet.

4. Take care of Mother Earth. Most farmers' markets provide food for your plate without the need for a sell-by date. By preventing food from traveling long distances, you're helping to save Mother Earth's precious natural resources and reduce waste.

5. Learn some new cooking skills. Farmers' markets encourage you to step outside of your cooking comfort zone. Not sure what to do with radishes? Need a new recipe for kale? By simply purchasing what's in season, you'll learn to prepare a variety of foods and dishes, no matter what time of year.

More: Toasts with Radishes and White-Bean Spread Recipe

Wondering where to find your nearest farmer's market? Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture's listing of farmers' markets here.

If you're unable to attend your local farmer's market this summer, there's another great alternative: Through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), seasonal produce will come directly to your doorstep. Although the concept isn't entirely new, the popularity of CSA programs is continuing to rise across the country.

How It Works

Farmers run and operate CSA programs through their farms. Once you register for a CSA, you pay for a share of the farmer's yield. CSA boxes are typically delivered either biweekly or monthly depending on your farm's schedule. In addition, most farms provide newsletters with their CSA packages, offering recipes and preparation ideas for experimenting with the seasonal produce.

More: Sustainable Food and Recipes for Athletes

Signing up for a CSA is easy. A great starting place is LocalHarvest.org , where more than 5 million people a year currently get local food from their community. Simply type in your location in the "Find CSA Farms" field to find a CSA farm nearby.

More: How to Shop Better at Your Farmer's Market

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About the Author

Sharon Palmer

Sharon Palmer is a registered dietitian, writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 750 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today's Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Dietitian. Sharon makes her home with her husband and two sons in the chaparral hills overlooking Los Angeles.

Sharon Palmer is a registered dietitian, writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 750 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today's Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Dietitian. Sharon makes her home with her husband and two sons in the chaparral hills overlooking Los Angeles.

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