Is there anything more wholesome and All-American (besides motherhood and apple pie) than a farmers market on a summer day? In addition to being able to buy fresh-picked produce directly from local growers, farmers markets create a sense of community.
There’s something about meeting and talking with the farmer who picked your corn that morning that makes it taste a whole lot sweeter than it would if you bought it from the grocery store. Produce bought at a farmer’s market is considerably cheaper, too, since there’s no middle man.
It’s hard to believe, then, that such an important part of American life is actually in danger of becoming extinct. According to the American Farmland Trust, the leading national organization dedicated to saving America’s farm and ranch land, 91% of America’s fruit and 78% percent of our vegetables are grown near metro regions, where they are in the path of development. In fact, every hour, somewhere in our country, 125 acres of farm and ranch land disappears.
Hmmm. What kind of dressing would you like on your concrete and glass salad?
Here’s another “wake-up and-read-the-writing on-the-wall” statistic: Americans don’t produce enough fresh fruits and vegetables for everyone to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. In fact, it is estimated that it would take another 13 million acres of farmland growing fruits and vegetables in order for Americans to meet the minimum daily requirement set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
As part of its quest to make fresh food from local farms a reality for everyone, the American Farmland Trust is holding its annual America’s Favorite Farmer’s Markets contest as part of its “No Farms No Food” campaign.
Farmer’s markets of all sizes from almost all 50 states are competing for the honor in four size categories (boutique, small, medium, and large. ) The winners will be determined in part by the number of votes each receives. At least 20 of the farmers markets competing are from cities on RelocateAmerica’s list of Top 100 Places to Live, and two of them are serious contenders for the title based on the number of votes each had received at the time of this writing:
Fayetteville, AR – 1,255 votes
Las Cruces, NM — 1023 votes
The winners, which will be determined in part by the number of votes each receives, will get some great publicity in addition to other prizes provided by corporate sponsors.
But, really, the grand prize goes to all of us by keeping such an important part of our communities alive, not to mention preserving invaluable farmlands.
So, if you haven’t already done so, go vote. Farmers everywhere will thank you.
- Farmer’s Market in July (i4daily.wordpress.com)
- West Baltimore Farmer’s Market (cphabaltimore.wordpress.com)
- Vermont’s Farmers Markets (travelingnearandfar.wordpress.com)