By: Leah Golden M.S. R.D.

Do you know the fresh aroma of tomatoes growing on the vine? I do, and it always brings me back to fond memories as a child.  It may be the same for you.  When I was growing up, my parents wanted to have fresh produce in the garden year-round; all varieties of pole and bush beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini, lettuce, you name it, they had it. My siblings and I would pick bowls of fresh produce (although, I think I was the best helper 😊); walking through the aisles finding the ripe red and yellow cherry tomatoes and crisp green beans. Even though I walked through many spider webs, this was when my love of fresh and local produce began.

We’re lucky in the Bay Area, as farmer’s markets have popped up all over. Many people flock to their local market weekly to pick up fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs, honey, flowers and other local goodies.   If this is not currently part of your weekly, monthly or even yearly activities, here are some great reasons to start visiting your local farmers market.

  1. Local & Seasonal Produce is Delicious 

Locally grown produce is picked at the peak of freshness and is usually out in the farmers markets within hours or days.  Ripe and seasonal produce always tastes better! If you compare an out-of-season grocery store tomato with the seasonal variety at the farmers market, the taste difference is undeniable.

  1. Higher in Nutrients

Since local produce is harvested at its peak and doesn’t typically travel very far to the market, the nutrients have less time to degrade.  Once plants are detached from their nutrient source, the nutrition quality declines.  Most grocery store produce is picked days or weeks before it reaches the store shelf for purchase by consumers. By this stage, the nutrient value has likely degraded, especially the antioxidant content (including, vitamin C, A, E). Grocery store produce may look fresh and beautiful, but they’re not as nutrient dense as they appear.

  1. Helping the Environment

Produce that travels less miles will require less storage, less fuel, less unnatural means of ripening and who knows what else to keep produce looking pristine and fresh upon arrival to stores.  The long distances traveled for food to get to its destination emits a high amount of fossil fuel, which is bad for our environment.  Local farmers tend to take care of their land and soil, practice sustainable farming, and care about their community. Many farmers encourage people to visit their farm, and on some occasions, you can bring groups to learn about how the farm works. They’ll probably even let you get your hands dirty.

  1. Helps Build Community

Visiting your neighborhood farmers market can help build relationships with farmers, community members, and possibly open the door to meet that special someone. Who says you have to go to the Marina Safeway (also known as the “dateway”) to strike up a conversation with a cutie 😉.  When you start going weekly, real relationships and communities can develop. Over the past year, I have built a great relationship with many of my local farmers. Last week I didn’t have enough cash, so they told me to come back next week with the rest! That’s awesome!

  1. Helps the Local Economy

When you put money into your community farmer’s market, you are supporting local businesses and reinvesting into your own community and farmland. Food doesn’t travel as far, reducing cost, which allows more money to be put back into the land and farmers who work hard to keep us stocked with fresh produce.

These are just a handful of reasons to start/or continue shopping at the farmers market for seasonal and local produce. There are many other great benefits.

These pictures were taken at a farmer’s market in San Francisco.  I bought the most beautiful and delicious tasting persimmons, zucchini and gorgeous flowers.  I always look forward to revisiting the market to see what’s new and/or in season.  If you have any questions about the farmer’s market or would like ideas/recipes, check out my Instagram @leahgolden.rd

See you at the Farmer’s Market! ~Leah

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