By Bronwynn Kelly
The Homer Farmers Market is a vibrant community, a wonder place to meet folks, hear some great music, and meet your food needs for the week. Here are a few more reasons that shopping at the market is a great idea.
1. Freshness. Produce is brought to market the same day or within a day of picking. That’s fresh. Fresh products are crisp, have good texture, last longer and taste better. You can also find seafood that is ensured to have been caught locally.
2. Variety. Farmers bring many different varieties. For example, Tuscan and Russian are just a couple of different kinds of kale. I don’t think I could even list the different types of jam that can be found at the market between Sweet Berries and Grandma’s Jam. There are all the different plant starts that and better yet maybe some planting advice from the ones who grow them yearly.
3. Flowers. You simply cannot compare the quality and freshness of flowers at the farmers’ markets with what grocery stores offer. This past week Paul Banks Elementary sold flowers that the students helped plant and water during the school year. Proceeds from this will go to continue this program, getting kids connected to agriculture and local food. Find cut flowers weekly with Simply Flower by Rachel Lord.
4. Know your farmer, know your food. This is really an advantage. Since the person you buy the product from is the farmer, you can ask anything about the product, for example, where it was grown, what variety it is, cooking and storage suggestions.
5. Community. At farmers markets you always see people gathering and sharing ideas. Check out the music, wander over to kids activities, visit the Peoples Garden, eat lunch with your friends, and do your shopping local.
6. Supporting the local economy. By shopping at farmers’ markets you are supporting local family operated small farms and community arts. Plus, this keeps your dollar within our community. Support the shopping derby here.
7. Reducing the carbon footprint. The distance produce travels from farm to you via a grocery store is often greater than 1000 miles, even further in Alaska. Transport to and storage at the store often requires refrigeration, and this results in carbon dioxide emissions. Our farmers market average distance traveled is less than 50 miles and there is no refrigeration or storage, making it almost the most direct from farm to your plate.
8. Alaska Grown: At the farmers’ market you know that all produce sold at our farmers’ markets is grown in and around Homer, not Mexico, not China, nor anywhere else in the world. Look for the symbol Alaska Grown in grocery stores, restaurants, and schools to support local everywhere in Alaska.
9. Hours: Every Saturday through September from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday markets start July 4, and are every Wednesday afternoon from 3 – 6 p.m. through September as well. With more people growing, season extending technology and a bigger market crowd, we’re able to have more vendors, more variety and increase our produce availability length.
(Adapted from the market’s weekly newsletter. Sign up at http://eepurl.com/mlRrL to receive the Homer Farmers Market weekly e-newsletter about what’s new at the market, seasonal recipes, see the current produce list and get general market updates.)
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