No matter how hard you read the nutrition labels in the grocery store, finding products that are actually good for you without all the added preservatives can be a difficult challenge. Packaging may lead you to believe that it “really is good for you”, but then there are dozens of words you can’t pronounce on the ingredient list.
At this rate, it seems like the only way you can truly know what’s in your food is if you grow it yourself. While you may not be able to start a small farm in your backyard, shopping at farmers markets is a close alternative.
Shopping at farmers markets is not only a good way to get clean produce into your diet, but also support local farmers in your community. Walking around local markets can also make for a great weekend family activity.
If you’re new to the farmers market scene, there’s probably an option fairly close to your neighborhood to visit. However, not all cities are equal for farmers markets. A number of factors such as the environment, cost of living and walkability of the city play a role in the availability and quality of farmers markets.
A recent study by Empire Today revealed that the cheapest farmers markets are located in Boise, Idaho and Santa Ana, California. The average produce costs under $1.00 in both of these locations. Washington, DC is the most expensive with an average produce cost of $2.74.
Given that the healthy food market is so expensive, this range of values seems pretty financially friendly. The cost is often the biggest barrier to eating healthy, but shopping at a farmers market makes this diet change slightly more feasible to budget.
Evaluating solely the environment, the west coast seems to be the prime location for farmers markets. Cities in Arizona, Nevada, and California have the perfect amount of April precipitation and chance of sunshine. These are obviously uncontrollable factors, but they also make or break the quality of produce.
Based on location, the availability of produce will vary. It may be frustrating that you can’t get your favorite fruit at any time of year in your hometown farmers market, but this really is in your best interest. Foods are grown seasonally meaning getting them at any other time of year is unnatural. Many corporate level grocery stores carry all produce year round with the help of chemicals and pesticides that are harmful to everyone involved.
Availability of farmers market largely depends on the layout of the city and whether there is land designated for agriculture. This, unlike the weather, is a factor that is controllable and malleable. Hialeah, Florida is home to the lowest ratio of parkland with under 1.5% of land area while Henderson, Nevada is almost half parkland at 48.6%.
All of the other factors are relatively unimportant if there’s nowhere for farmers to grow their plants and set up shop. On top of that, if no one shops at the farmers markets, they won’t be able to support their businesses. This all goes to show the importance of supporting local farmers in any way possible - making for a mutually beneficial relationship where you can incorporate clean nutrients into your diet without breaking the bank.