Those of us who don’t farm often take our food for granted, especially those of us who live a comfortable, urban life in the United States. We go to the grocery store, or even Walmart, and buy what we need to feed our families for a week or two.
Maybe it’s time to be more mindful. We hear it all the time, by the year 2050 the world’s population will reach more than 9 billion people. To feed that growing population, food production will need to increase by 70 percent. That need for food security will fall on the shoulders of our farmers.
This is a good week to be more aware of those farmers. August 2-8 is National Farmers Market Week.
The focus of this year’s celebration goes beyond the fresh vegetable and buy local messages we often hear. The Farmers Market Coalition is highlighting the ways farmers markets benefit our communities.
Consider these facts from the coalition about how farmers markets preserve farmland, stimulate local economies, increase access to fresh nutritious food, improve community health and promote sustainability.
Preserve America’s rural livelihoods and farmland. Farmers markets provide one of the only low-barrier entry points for beginning farmers, allowing them to start small, test the market, and grow their businesses.
Stimulate local economies. Growers selling locally create 13 full time farm operator jobs per $1 million in revenue earned. Those that do not sell locally create 3.
Increase access to fresh, nutritious food. Several studies have found lower prices for conventional and organic produce at farmers markets than at supermarkets. Due to this and other factors, 52% more SNAP households shop at farmers markets and from direct marketing farmers today than in 2011.
Support healthy communities. Farmers market vendors educate their shoppers. Four out of five farmers selling at markets discuss farming practices with their customers, and three in five discuss nutrition and how to prepare food.
Promote sustainability. Three out of every four farmers selling at farmers markets say they use practices consistent with organic standards.
So find the farmers market closest to you and visit not only this week, but all season long.