Delicious Nutricious Sustenance
Any of these things interest you?
Come to the Jackson Farmers’ Market, Sunday, June 20 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Busi Parking lot behind Mel and Fayes Diner
Why Shop at the Farmers’ Market? – easier to read version found in attached PDF document
There are a host of reasons to shop at your local Farmers’ Market. Grounds for participating in the local food system by shopping at the Farmers’ Market range from the ideals of independence and freedom to open space and economics.
For those who are interested in property rights, independence and freedom; products at the Farmers’ Market are a direct result of these rights and ideals. Without the right to farm, a property right, there will be no agricultural products. If this right is not maintained locally there will be no local agricultural products and without local agricultural products there will be no independence or freedom. Now this notion may have you straightening up in your chair… Yet we all must have access to food, water and shelter and how could access to these necessities be construed as freedom and independence if they are not produced locally? If these basic needs are not met locally, they are controlled by others, who are unlikely to have our interests in mind.
Open Space and Agrarian Life
The agricultural products, which are sold at the Farmers’ Market are primarily a result of local soil, local water, local air and local human labor. This means that by shopping at the Farmers’ Market we are directly contributing to the open space, which creates the rural character of our area. Why? Because without an economic incentive to maintain open space the land which allows for this space will be used for activities which do carry an economic incentive. In short, we have an option, feeding people healthy food with the resources that the land has to offer or using that land for sprawling commercial and housing development.
Not only do purchases at the Farmers’ Market help to maintain open space in our area, they also nurture those who lead an agrarian life. The majority of vendors and the Farmers’ Markets are not your average backyard gardener, they are small scale farmers who have chosen an agrarian lifestyle. This is not a passing hobby for these vendors, it is a lifestyle that they are invested in. These vendors are a wealth of old, new and ever expanding knowledge on the methods of stewarding our open spaces.
How does shopping at the Farmers’ Market support the local economy more than say buying your olive oil, honey or lettuce at a chain store? Let’s take olive oil, what steps must be taken by humans to produce olive oil and sell it to the consumer.
1. Water must be directed to the site where the olive trees are to be grown.
2. The land the olive trees are to be grown on must be controlled 3. The olive trees must be planted and allowed to mature 4. The olive trees must be watered and otherwise maintained 5. The olives must be harvested
6. The olives must be sorted
7. The olives must be transported to a pressing/bottling facility 8. The bottles to pack the oil must be created
9. The olives must be pressed and the oil bottled
10. The olive oil must be transported to where the consumer can access it.
11. Someone must handle the transaction of selling the olive oil. Of course there could be a whole slough of other steps that could be taken to produce olive oil and provide it to the consumer depending on the who, what, where, when and why of the olive oil in question. However, let us analyze the simplified steps listed above in the table below. The left column represents the step of production, the 2nd from the left column represents employment created by olive oil which is sold at the Farmers’ Market, the 3rd column from the left represents employment created by olive oil which is sold at a chain store. The right column represents questions to ask your producer in order to determine just how their product affects the local economy.
Chart Must be viewed in PDF document attached
As shown in the chart above there are between 8 and 10 local employment opportunities created in this simplified chain of events to produce local olive oil and sell it at the Farmers’ Market. The chain store olive oil creates between 1 and 2 local jobs in this simplified chain of events.
This is just one example of how shopping at the Farmers’ Market benefits the local economy. In order to understand how to strengthen our local economy we need to know not just how to bring employment opportunities here but also how to keep currency re-circulating here once it gets here. It is estimated by Arkansas State University that over the last 100 years the number of times a given unit of currency re-circulates in a typical economy has gone from 25 or 30 down to less than 10. We can turn this trend around by shopping at locally owned businesses and at the Farmers’ Market.
Other examples include a “Yes!” magazine study, which concluded that for every dollar spent at a locally owned business 45 cents was reinvested locally while for every dollar spent at a corporate chain only 15 cents was reinvested locally.
Your health is yet another reason to purchase your food at the Farmers’ Market. University of Illinois studies show that the less time that passes between harvest and consumption, the more nutrients are available to the human body. Locally grown produce is nutrient rich because it is harvested at the peak of ripeness and has only been transported a short distance in order to reach your plate. Chain store produce is devoid of nutrients by comparison because it has traveled an average of 1200 miles to reach the consumer and was harvested long before its peak of ripeness.
Not only is local produce more nutrient rich, it tastes better. There are two pre-dominant reasons for this, variety and freshness. Produce in the chain grocery store has been designed to travel 1200 miles to reach its consumer. This means that plant varieties have been chosen not for taste and nutrient richness but instead for the ability to be transported, stored for days, weeks or months and yet still look ‘fresh.’ Locally grown produce is almost always chosen with a completely different set of criteria in mind, flavor and nutrient richness. In general, the varieties that taste the best do not transport or store well therefore the mass scale growers can’t grow them but your local farmer can. Farmers’ Market produce is also fresher and was picked at the peak of its nutrient content, therefore it tastes better and is healthier for your body.
Shopping at the Farmers’ Market, a part of the local food system, isn’t just about your health and the local economy. It is also directly related to open space, property rights, independence and freedom. With all these aspects in consideration why not make an effort to support your local food system, the job you save may be your own.
Misconceptions about Farmers’ Market Vendors – reprint from last week
One common misconception is that everything at the market is organic or grown in an eco-friendly manner. This is just not the case. Yes, all of the vendors at the Farmers’ Market must be certified producers. That means they must file for a certified producers certificate with the Agriculture Department in the county that they are producing in. An Ag Dept official then goes out to the farm or garden and inspects to be sure that it is possible that everything that is on the certified producers certificate is being grown by that producer.
Growing practices are not taken into account in any manner in this process. The Certified Producers Certificate is only designed to prove that the producer is growing what he or she is selling. You, the consumer must be the one to ask your vendor how they are producing their product. Products do not have to be organically certified to be eco-friendly, in fact organic certification and responsible practices are not necessarily related, however you do deserve to know how your food comes from the earth to your table.
Some Questions to Ask your Farmers’ Market Vendor when Shopping at the Market:
– What do you fertilize your plants with?
– Do you use herbicides on your farm?
– Do you use insecticides on your farm?
* The preceding 3 questions are especially important for products such as leafy greens and strawberries, which, when conventionally grown require large amounts of pesticides that studies have found are virtually impossible to wash out of these types of produce.
– Do you use Miracle-Grow? – Miracle Grow is a petroleum based fertilizer.
– Do you mulch your plantings? Mulching greatly reduces water needs and if an organic mulch is used provides a slow release fertilizer. * If a vendor cannot answer these questions I would not buy from them.