July 21, 2015
Lincoln, Neb. — In communities across the nation there’s a place where the public is being reintroduced to the world of agriculture. A place where urban dwellers and rural farmers are forming relationships. A place where the public is learning more about where their food comes from.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates over 1,000,000 people visit a farmers market weekly. Shopping, eating, socializing and exercising are just a few of the reasons why people enjoy visiting one of the 8,000 farmers markets across the nation. Regardless of the reasoning for going to the local farmers market, Nebraska Extension is embracing the public’s interest.
“People enjoy getting to meet the ones that are producing their food,” said Nebraska Extension Educator Alice Henneman. “They get to ask questions about the food that you could not ask someone who works at a grocery store.”
While serving as the public face for agriculture, farmers markets are also helping to meet the growing demand for fresh food, which has led to a rise in their popularity. The average supermarket produce travels about 2,000 miles to its destination, compared to 50 miles for produce at a farmers market. Henneman has a tip for those looking to find fresh and healthy food at their local farmers market.
“To get a healthy variety, think color,” she said. “Eating fruits and vegetables of different colors gives your body a wide range of valuable nutrients like fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.”
Through their experiences at farmers markets consumers have become more aware of the benefits of eating local food, which creates more opportunities for local farmers. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and can help a family farm compete in the food marketplace. Buying local food also keeps dollars circulating in the community and increases local food security. With each local food purchase, the money goes directly to local farmers and the local farmers will often put their money back into the community.
While fads come and go, consumers desire for fresh, locally grown food is rising and here to stay. Nebraska Extension wants people to know that farmers markets are a great way to meet this demand while also supporting the local farmer. To learn more about food safety and selection at the farmers market visit https://food.unl.edu/safety/farmersmarket.