The Rise of The Farmer's Market
Why more people are buying organic and subscribing to CSAs.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: July 28th, 2012
he Farmer's Market: for some it's a display of the highly privileged partaking in their privilege. For others, it's a way of life. And for some people, strolling the market takes a backseat to picking up their portion of a weekly CSA, or community supported agriculture—residents sign up with a farm to receive a weekly share of its harvest, and pay a one-time fee at the beginning of the season to cover it. And as more people flock through their neighborhoods' green markets, we wonder what's caused the uptick in popularity. Are the prices comparable to the local grocery stores? Is the quality really that much better? And how does one get involved in a CSA share? Is it really worth it?
Walking up and down the aisles of the farmer's market can be a little overwhelming. Many of the vendors sell the same produce, and it can be a little tricky to try and find the least expensive/best looking/best overall deal when you just want, say, five or six patty pan squash. But when it comes to quality, the grocery store can't even hold a candle. If you've never had fresh strawberries from the market, do yourself a serious favor and get yourself to a market and buy some strawberries.
The constant supply of fresh vegetables, fruits, and sometimes eggs, cheeses, or meats turns out to be a good value, especially considering there are a handful of different farms to choose from at the start of the season.
While shopping from various farms instead of one big store is a little more complicated and usually a little more expensive, we have found that it's absolutely worth it. The food simply tastes better. And for some people, it's not only about that but about supporting local businesses.
Gretchen Neidhardt, who subscribes to M's Organic Farm's CSA this year and has previously participated in Peasant's Plot's CSA, says she likes it because along with basically forcing her to eat a healthy diet, it helps out farmers. Additionally, picking up a weekly share means she bypasses the hassle of grocery shopping.
"I do think it's important to support small local farmers, but for me it's also really nice to pay a flat fee at the beginning of the season and then know I will have some sort of vegetables for the duration of the summer and most of the fall. It takes a lot of the hassle of going to the grocery store out of my life."
And for plenty of people, that's reason enough. The constant supply of fresh vegetables, fruits, and sometimes eggs, cheeses, or meats turns out to be a good value, though there are usually at least a handful of different farms to choose from at the start of the season. As for whether she thinks it's a good value for what she pays (CSA shareholders usually pay between $200-$600 for the season, depending on the size and contents of the share), she says, "It depends on your farmer, but I've been really happy with every one that I've done. Each farm usually specializes in something, so you'll get the same type of produce [from week to week], but it's great to know that you have a certain number of things and you need to use them."
We don't see farmer's markets' popularity waning anytime soon, and though they're best in the summer, some cities do host them during the winter months, especially if you live in a temperate climate. But honestly, take advantage of it and check out what's available in your area.