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Farmer’s Markets vs. Not-So-Supermarkets

by Devin Ross Garza

Local farmer marketThe industrialization of our nation’s food industry, and increasingly the world’s food industry, has drastically changed the way food is produced, transported to market, bought, and consumed.

The idea of a “farmer’s market” has become a novelty rather than the norm within under a hundred years, and has been replaced by the modern supermarket, literally teeming with glossy boxes of prepackaged food and gleaming glass cases full of meat and poultry. It all costs next to nothing, and no one knows who or where it came from (or even what it actually is in more cases than we would care to think).

The advent of modern, large-scale food production operations has forced all but the few remaining traditional family farms to shut down, and along with them went the important social ties between growers and eaters as well as our integrity as shoppers. Farmer’s markets meet the needs of both small farmers marginalized by the capitalist food economy and those who wish to be conscientious consumers of quality food.

Why don’t we know where our food comes from? It is because virtually anything stocked on supermarket shelves has been mass-produced in an unhealthy, unethical environment to make a big corporation a lot of money, and those who stand to profit from this system want to keep consumers convinced otherwise. Most of what we eat has been transported over long distances, burning a lot of fossil fuel; it has been processed, removing most of its original nutrients; and it is sold at a deceptively low price that does not reflect its true cost to the farmer who produced it, the taxpayers whose money subsidized its production, or our environment that was damaged because of it. The result is that we pay little for low quality food that does far more harm than good.

Circumventing this corrupt system entirely, local farmer’s markets are places where you can meet the farmer who grew your food, shake their hand and learn their name–hell, probably their family history if you wanted to know it. Whatever you buy there was grown using sustainable farming practices near where you live. You can be confident that the organically grown vegetables are chock-full of healthful nutrients, and that your meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy came from grass-fed, free-range animals. You pay your farmer a fair price, and that money goes straight into their pockets and back into your local community, instead of to a corporate middleman. Sure, what you buy from your local farmer may cost more than it does at Wal-Mart, but the principle stands: you get what you pay for.

Find your local farmer’s market and begin those relationships with your farmers, and while you’re at it, eat some good food too.