Press-Republican

Columns

June 24, 2012

Farmers markets deserve support

Freshly picked vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, homemade baked goods, local grass-fed and finished meats, free-range chickens and eggs, jams and jellies, cheeses, maple syrup, honey, snack foods, fruit juices, wines and liquors; all this and more, all local, and all on sale at farmers markets across the North Country.

When you shop at local farmers markets, everybody wins. As a customer, you get to select from the freshest, finest and the best local produce and prepared foods money can buy. You can feel good knowing that you’re buying locally grown and prepared wholesome, nourishing food, which tastes better and is more nutritious than that picked before it’s ripe and transported across the continent or halfway around the world.

Besides, it’s fun to meet the growers. They’ll appreciate your feedback. They’re your neighbors. You can talk with them, share thoughts and concerns, ask questions and get closer to the source of the food  you’re buying.

We’re living in an age of global markets and marketing, of distance and being disconnected. It’s all too easy to lose touch with the efforts and the productivity of our area’s growers. But, shopping at the farmers market supports local growers and keeps money circulating within the community. A purchase also promotes productive use and the preservation of our land, water and agricultural heritage for future generations.

The tradition of farmers markets can be traced to ancient times, when marketplaces were the centers of villages and towns. Not only were they places people gathered to buy, barter and trade, they were places where people met to exchange news and share stories.

Farmers markets have deep roots in our history, too. By many accounts, they have existed as a part of American society since the 1700s. In fact, throughout much of the 18th and 19th centuries, outdoor marketplaces were the heart of our cities and centers of commerce in rural communities. The Central Market in Lancaster, Pa., has been held in the same location since the 1730s. George Washington wrote about sending his kitchen staff to shop at Philadelphia’s outdoor market during the 1790s, and Thomas Jefferson wrote, in 1806, about buying beef, eggs and vegetables at an outdoor market in Georgetown.

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