Why Choose a Farmers Market Over the Supermarket?
There are a multitude of reasons to frequent the farmer's market over a supermarket produce department. Supermarkets are designed to make money in the most efficient way possible for their chains, which benefits from large-quantity purchases to make their overhead lower, but also results in a lot of waste. Most supermarket chains don't take the time to shop what is local to each store, or even each region, which means that they largely buy from big producers. These big producers must then package and ship their produce to the distributors, and the distributors must then ship them to each individual store. That's aging the produce as it is shipped between location. Every minute that passes from field to the store results in lost freshness, flavor, and nutrition.
It may be better to simply buy frozen than to buy old “fresh” produce. Frozen produce is processed immediately, locking in its nutritional value.
Truly fresh produce is the obvious choice. Local farms and farmer's markets provide a place for the farmer to deliver his produce immediately after it is picked to the vendor who sells it. It cuts out middle men and distribution centers, and it keeps the local farm economy flourishing.
Fresh produce is easier to prepare. Now, there might be a little more labor, because there is often still dirt attached to the produce that might not still be on more processed foods. This is a small price to pay for fresh, crisp, and juicy produce. The flavors, aromas, and appropriate textures are still intact. For most vegetables (fish, and meats too!), that means that simple preparation methods are all that are necessary. Carrots taste more carrot-y, celery is juicier, less pithy, and tomatoes bloom in one's mouth, even dressed with a couple of drops of balsamic vinegar and a little salt.
The most knowledgeable high-end restaurants take advantage of the better quality and variety that local farms offer. Everyone else should, too.
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