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Shop healthy. Avoid diseases.

Bernard-Henri Louvat
CEO & Founder of Tera. I am a serial technology entrepreneur and I occasionally write articles for our blog. Drop me a line at blouvat@hellotera.com if you feel like it!

Here’s Why You Should Shop at the Farmers Market

If you can, buy your produce from a regenerative organic farm – it is better for your health and the planet.

One of the main barriers preventing many people from shopping at their local farmers market is because the food is more expensive than the grocery store. Growing the highest quality fruits and vegetables by hand on a small scale is a labor-intensive process that requires a higher price tag in order to be profitable.

Although the price gap has fallen due to inflation, local food can still be out of the budget for many people, especially in today’s economy. In this article, we take you through ten of the most compelling reasons why you should save on costs elsewhere so that you can afford the best food for your health and the planet.

At your local farmers market, try to find a regenerative organic farm, i.e. one that goes above and beyond the USDA organic standards by doing all the good stuff (minimal or no tillage, compost, mulch, crop rotation, cover crops, rotational grazing, creating habitat for beneficial insects, etc.) instead of only avoiding the bad stuff (heavy tillage, synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, GMOs, etc.).

Alternatively, you can join a local farm’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). As a CSA member, you pay in advance at the beginning of the year in exchange for a box of fresh, seasonal produce each week during the growing season. By paying in full ahead of time, you end up saving much more money than if you were to buy all your produce from the farmers market or supermarket every week.

1.The farmers market will make you healthier as a result.

Studies reveal a concerning trend in today’s produce, showing decreased protein, vitamin, mineral and phytochemical levels compared to decades past. This decline is the consequence of modern agricultural practices, particularly monoculture, heavy tillage, synthetic fertilizers, and toxic pesticides, which destroy microbiology in the soil like bacteria and fungi. Without these microbes, plants struggle to extract nutrients from the soil, resulting in much less nutritious food.

The human body requires approximately 40 micronutrients for optimal functioning. Deficiencies in any of these key elements can contribute to the development of chronic diseases and even reduce your lifespan. Yet, in our modern world, ensuring adequate nutrient intake is becoming increasingly challenging. In addition to the decline in nutrient availability, the rise of processed and refined foods, high in calories but void of nutrients, is a major contributor.

Further complicating matters is the prevalence of toxins like heavy metals and glyphosate in the food chain. These bind to nutrients, hindering absorption by the body. This, coupled with the growing burden of chronic disease, which increases nutrient demand while compromising absorption, paints a concerning picture for long-term public health.

Fortunately, regenerative agriculture offers a solution. Avoiding heavy tillage and pesticides while implementing a diverse crop rotation, cover crops, compost, and mulch fosters a vibrant and diverse soil microbiome. This, in turn, leads to the development of robust plants that extract more nutrients and produce more phytochemicals, natural defense compounds that enhance not only the nutritional value of food but also the flavor and aroma. In essence, a healthy microbiome in the soil creates a healthy microbiome in our gut.

Furthermore, the farmers market offers a wider selection of varieties that are inherently more nutritious and tastier than their supermarket counterparts. Commercial produce breeding often prioritizes traits like high yields and rapid growth or the ability to withstand shipping, leading to a loss of flavor and nutrients. High-yielding, fast-growing plants process nutrients at a slower rate, resulting in fewer nutrients compared to slower-growing varieties.

Finally, nutrients in fruits and vegetables begin to degrade the day of harvest, yet another reason why local produce is more nutritious than food shipped from far away. In fact, vitamins and antioxidants can be more than twice as high in local produce. Whereas farmers market produce is typically harvested the same day or the day before, food shipped within North America can take up to five days to hit store shelves, and several weeks if it’s coming from abroad. Shipped produce is also picked before peak ripeness so it survives the journey, compromising its flavor and nutrient density, plus it often has additives to keep it fresh for longer.

2. The farmers market promotes the regeneration of our soil.

One of the most significant benefits of regenerative agriculture is the improvement in soil structure. Practices like minimal tillage, cover cropping, and the addition of organic matter lead to well-aggregated soil particles, creating a stable, crumbly texture. This enhanced structure improves water infiltration, root penetration, and aeration, making the soil more resilient to erosion and compaction.

Another key feature is the promotion of organic matter in the soil. This is achieved through methods such as composting, mulching, and planting cover crops. Organic matter acts as a source of nutrients, boosts water retention, and supports a diverse and robust community of beneficial microorganisms in the soil.

A soil microbiome that is alive and thriving plays a crucial role in nutrient cycling, disease suppression, and overall soil health. This healthy and diverse microbial community is vital for plant growth and resilience, reducing our reliance on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

3. The farmers market decreases the carbon footprint of your food.

At a farmers market, the shorter distance food has to travel to reach your plate significantly reduces the carbon footprint associated with transportation. In contrast, a substantial portion of the produce found in supermarkets embarks on long journeys from all corners of the world, resulting in increased greenhouse gas emissions due to the extensive use of fossil fuels in the transportation process.

Moreover, the vast agricultural operations that supply supermarkets often rely on petroleum-based products like pesticides and fertilizers. The production and use of these chemicals release a considerable amount of greenhouse gasses, with nitrous oxide being a particularly potent cause of climate change.

To top it off, the heavy machinery used in large-scale conventional farming, including tractors and combines, consumes significant amounts of fuel, further adding to the environmental footprint.

4. You reduce water pollution and preserve water sources.

Modern agricultural practices also pose a threat to water quality. The use of pesticides and fertilizers result in water pollution and dead zones, impacting not only groundwater but also rivers, oceans, and even the rain that falls from the sky. Glyphosate (also known as RoundUp), the weed killer that causes cancer, has even been found in the breast milk of mothers. 

Poor soil quality necessitates extensive irrigation, which is a huge waste of water. Growing feed crops for livestock alone consumes over half (56%) of water in the US. This stands in stark contrast to regenerative agriculture, which does not need to use nearly as much water because the soil holds so much, even in times of severe drought, and the animals are raised on pasture.

Speaking of which, degraded and barren soil, a common feature in conventional farming once the season has ended and the ground is left fallow, has consequences beyond the land itself. It generates microclimates of drought by emitting heat, which inhibits the formation of clouds.

5. The farmer’s market enhances biodiversity.

Supermarkets often source their food from large farms specializing in a limited range of crops, resulting in gigantic monoculture fields. Unfortunately, this monoculture approach harms the ecosystem due to heavy pesticide use, diminished soil microbe diversity, and a lack of pollen/nectar for pollinators.

Conversely, small farms follow a more regenerative path. They grow a varied selection of fruits and vegetables while also planting flowers, cover crops, and perennials. This approach provides a habitat and food source for native pollinators, eliminates the need for toxic spraying, and increases the microbial diversity in the soil. Greater diversity also reduces pest and disease pressure.

6. Know how your food is grown.

stock image of a farmers market

Farmers are often happy to talk to customers about how they grow their food and the choices they make to care for the land. This can help people make more informed decisions about what they eat and support regenerative agriculture.

You can avoid all the harmful practices like monoculture, pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, CAFOs, antibiotics, growth hormones, GMOs, etc. Instead, you can support positive actions like composting, mulching, minimal tillage, cover crops, rotational grazing, etc. This ensures that your food is grown safely and responsibly.

7. The farmers market supports local businesses and jobs.

Support your local farmers market drawing

Money spent at farmers’ markets supports small businesses, which stimulate local economic growth by creating jobs and leading community initiatives. They genuinely care about the well-being of their customers and keep profits within the community, ensuring local needs are addressed. Small businesses also promote competition, offer diverse consumer choices, and enrich local culture while freeing entrepreneurs from corporate servitude in the 9-5 rat race.

Local farms, in particular, play a critical role because they provide the food we eat, food that is more nutritious and eco-friendly than store-bought. On the flip side we have many large corporations, especially in the food industry, that ruthlessly prioritize profit over our health and the well-being of the planet. Therefore, it’s essential to reduce our reliance on such corporations as much as we can.

8. You help create resilient, self-sufficient communities.

How a farmers market works

When we support local food systems, we actively contribute to the creation of secure and independent communities. This support bolsters our food security, reducing our dependence on distant and potentially fragile sources of sustenance – a lesson made all too clear during the challenging days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small farms offer a beacon of hope in the face of our changing climate. They’re resilient precisely because their farming practices align with nature rather than working against Her. By embracing natural methods, these small farms maintain their productivity and quality while regenerating the precious resources that sustain them.

9. You are encouraged to eat whole foods and cook at home.

man cutting vegetables stock image

In contrast to supermarkets, which showcase aisles of shelves stocked with processed junk, the fresh offerings at farmers’ markets represent a pure, wholesome journey from the Earth to your plate. Even value-added products like jams are minimally processed, crafted with clean and safe ingredients.

By choosing whole foods that necessitate some degree of preparation, we are naturally inclined to prepare meals at home. This practice benefits our well-being as it empowers us to take charge of our ingredients and portions, steering clear of the seed oils, additives, Teflon pans, plastic packaging, and non-organic ingredients commonly found in restaurant and fast-food fare.

10. The farmers market reduces food waste.

food waste in the USA infographic

Supermarkets and restaurants procure substantial quantities of food to cater to a broad customer base, yet not all of it is consumed before it expires. There are also strict cosmetic standards in these industries, which means that perfectly edible but slightly blemished or misshapen produce may be discarded. This all results in a tremendous amount of food waste sent to the landfill. 

In contrast, local regenerative farms produce food on a small scale for a narrow market and harvest fresh on a weekly basis, significantly reducing the amount of food that goes to waste. In fact, unsold produce goes into the compost pile to revitalize the soil, so there is no waste at all!

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