Source: Macy's Green Living
If it seems like there are farmers markets everywhere, it’s because there are. According to the U.S.D.A. Agricultural Marketing Service, the number of farmers markets in the U.S. has increased 124 percent since 2004, from 3,705 to 8,284 today. Some companies are even getting into the act, hosting regular farmers market events for their employees – including Procter & Gamble, Qualcomm, and of course, Macy’s.
Sponsored by the Cincinnati GoGreen ERG, the Macy’s Market Days are offered monthly during the summer season in the front lobby of our Cincinnati headquarters, and features local farms and and other local and sustainable businesses. Vendors offer a variety of products, including fresh produce, bread, granola, honey, soaps and other locally grown and made items. The GoGreen ERG says the market is designed to encourage associates to buy local, reducing their carbon footprint.
Good for the Environment
How does shopping at the farmers market reduce your carbon footprint?
Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate, which uses a tremendous volume of fossil fuels as well as other natural resources. Food at your local farmers market travels much shorter distances, dramatically reducing that environmental burden.
Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than most farmers market farmers, as well as generating toxic by-products that contribute to pollution of water, air and land. The vast majority of farmers market farmers utilize sustainable farming practices, conserving natural resources and reducing environmental impact.
Good for You
Farmers markets feature locally grown, healthy food that’s in season, providing the opportunity to taste it at its peak. Fruits and vegetables allowed to fully ripen in the fields simply taste better, and are often better for you, as locally grown foods are packed with nutrients rich in your specific climate and region.
Farmers market fare offers the opportunity to connect more closely with the seasons: you’ll find fresh greens, asparagus and strawberries in spring, sweet corn and melons in summer and pumpkins and squash as the season shifts towards fall.
“But I don’t like vegetables,” you might say. Well, we think you’re missing out, but there are lots of other reasons to go to the farmers market. Many offer much more than fresh fruits and vegetables. You can find meats, eggs, cheeses, locally made condiments and sauces, pasta and fresh baked goods ranging from breads to cookies and cakes to pies. At many markets, you’ll even find fresh flowers and garden plants.
It’s also a unique opportunity to meet and talk with local farmers and food artisans and learn more about where your food comes from and how it’s produced. You’ll also often find recipes, cooking tips and food demonstrations that can help you discover local food treasures and eat a healthier, happier and more sustainable diet. The best benefit of shopping at a farmers market? It’s just plain fun. Farmers markets are social hubs, where families shop together, meet friends and enjoy live music and food trucks as they connect with the community around them in fun new ways.
Take the Local Food Pledge
You can support sustainable foods and farming by taking the Local Food Pledge – simply pledging to shift 10 percent of your food budget to locally grown food, and enjoy fresher, healthier food that helps reduce your carbon footprint. For most families, that’s about 13 dollars a week, according to Green Umbrella Executive Director Kristin Weiss. The Cincinnati-based sustainability alliance leader also says “If 10 percent of Greater Cincinnati took the pledge, it would generate more than $56 million for the local economy.”
Fresh, healthy food that simply tastes good, a chance to connect more deeply with your local community, a stronger local economy and a smaller carbon footprint. What’s not to love?
Find Your Local Farmers Market
Where can you find your local farmers market? The National Farmers Market Directory has a great search tool that can help. In addition to listing markets and locations, it includes details on days and hours, products offered and payment options (some farmers markets accept credit cards and food program payments).