Are Farmers' Markets the New Starbucks?

farmer's marketsFor those of us who love to shop organic, local, and spend less money than one does at Whole Foods, farmers' markets are a godsend. Yet, a lot of times you need groceries more than once a week, and waiting for Saturday to come around can mean no produce in the house for a few days.

So I was surprised when I recently found out there was a farmers' market within a few miles of my house every single day of the week in Los Angeles. No more waiting for the weekend! After I came down from my fruit and vegetable inspired high, I thought, duh, you're in Southern California. Things grow year round here, of course there will be more places to buy the good stuff.

It turns out that those of us in warm climes aren't the only ones benefiting from a ton of fruit, vegetable, and locally grown meat stands. Farmers' markets are taking over the United States.

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The number of farmers' markets has more than doubled during the last 10 years in the U.S., and jumped an incredible 17 percent just in the last year! You really are seeing more temporary stands and piles of food being sold on the street -- it's not just your imagination. I was visiting family in Oklahoma a few years ago when I saw a farmers' market near my hometown, which only has a population of 45,000 people.

When the farm towns are getting farmers' markets, there's something afoot. When I was growing up, everyone had their own garden, if not their own farm. But no one was selling to their neighbors, in stands set up that advertised "local produce." In fact, growing your own food was something rural, low- to mid-income people did. Not hipsters and yuppies who regularly shop at the local stands. If someone got a particularly bountiful harvest of zucchini, they would drop off bags at their neighbor's house. The favor would be returned in watermelon.

I can't help but wonder now if these same people are cleaning up by taking their bushels of produce into the larger cities and selling it as "low carbon footprint" food. I hope so!

I love the proliferation of farmers' markets in America. It does show that people care about what we're putting into our bodies and about our local farmers. Something that was not the case when I was growing up and corporate farms put longtime family farms out of business. I only hope that there are enough ears of corn on these small farms to sell to the masses.

Do you have a lot of farmers' markets near you?


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