But perhaps one of the biggest differences between supermarkets and farmers markets is when you part with your money, you’re generally handing it directly over to the business owner. Maybe it’s even the same person who picked the head of lettuce you’re buying, or mashed up berries for a jar of jam. These people will obviously also be knowledgeable about their products and happy to help you, since a sale has such a direct effect on them.
Then there are the most obvious benefits to a farmers market: freshness and localness. You know you’re getting a fresh product at a farmers market, whether that’s a carton of strawberries or a loaf of bread. It’s unlikely the food you buy was highly processed or stuffed with preservatives because it didn’t have to survive sitting in a warehouse and being trucked across the country. And if you don’t think that matters to your taste buds, then you probably haven’t ever had truly fresh food.
Since the food is fresh, it has to come from the surrounding area, so spending a dollar at a farmers market means it’s money going to a neighbor, not to a multinational corporation. While the latter might get an undeservedly bad rap these days (anyone who has ever enjoyed a banana north of the Mexican border has juggernaut-scale industrial farming and transport to thank) our neighbors deserve and need the support of their communities. Keeping them in business will also help support a more sustainable (and tasty) marketplace for everyone.
With the exploding popularity of farmers markets, you won’t have to go out of your way to find one. There are a few big ones: The Delmar Farmers Market on Saturday morning, the Schenectady Green Market on Sunday mornings and the Farmers Market at the Crossings in Colonie on Saturdays. Then there are literally dozens of others at all times of the week. Try a few on for size, and you might find shopping to be more fun than chore.