Support Farmers’ Markets: Buy Local

DenaJune 27, 2011

Over the past year, I’ve slowly shifted my food purchasing to 99% organic.  I started slowly by seeking organic food at my regular groceries.  Eventually I was disappointed with the limited options at the big name stores and tried local natural food stores.  At these stores I found a wide array of choices & helpful staff; but they were expensive.

Then, I discovered the best thing to ever happen to my grocery shopping experience—Trader Joe’s.  TJ’s has a huge selection of organic fruit, vegetables, sauces, & breads; organic cage-free eggs; and organic free-range meats.  The produce is some of the freshest I’ve come across—items like salad & broccoli from Trader Joe’s last me a week+ longer than the same produce purchased from the big name groceries. Perhaps the best thing about Trader Joe’s is the staff.  I am always impressed with the friendliness & helpfulness of every single Trader Joe’s staff person that I come across.

Clearly, I am a huge Trader Joe’s fan.  The only thing that keeps the store from being perfect in my eyes is that much of the food is not local.  While my health plays a big part in my food purchases, I am also concerned with ethics & the environment.  In my eyes, perfect food = organic + sustainably/locally grown.

Farmers’ Markets = ♥
In the summertime, all of my prayers are answered at my local farmers’ markets!  I am so blessed to live in rural New Jersey where farmers’ markets can be found all over the place.  Currently there are three farmer’s markets within ten to twenty-five minutes of me.  I can visit the markets on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.

I absolutely adore my local farmers’ markets.  All of the vendors are so friendly and happy to answer my questions about their products.  It is so great to actually be able to talk to the producers of my food.

Far too many people are completely disconnected from the food that they eat.  We tend to have no idea about the stuff that we are putting into our bodies. We simply go to the grocery and pluck anything from the shelves and throw it in the cart—especially if it’s On Sale or Tastes Good.

We don’t stop to ask the important questions:

  • What is in this product?
  • Where did it come from?
  • Who worked to get this here?
  • How was this animal treated?
  • How was the earth treated in growing this product?

These questions are incredibly important—for your health & for the health of our planet.

Why buy local?
There are countless reasons why buying local food is both rewarding and delicious, including enjoying the taste of fresh food, improved health and nutrition, support for family farms, and ensuring animal welfare.

There is also significant peace of mind in knowing where our food comes from.  Developing a relationship with local farmers gives us an “in” with our local food system. Some farmers are thrilled to share their knowledge and experience with their customers.  Ask about the challenges your local farmers face and what they are doing to address them.  It doesn’t have to be complicated.  Ask about the weather!  Any farmer will be pleased to talk about how the growing season is going and how that affects the food they grow. Knowing local farmers can go a long way to simplifying buying local.

Another significant reason to buy local is to keep food miles to a minimum. “Food miles” refer to the distance a food item travels from the farm to your home.  The food miles for items in the grocery store are, on average, 27 times higher than the food miles for goods bought from local sources.

In the U.S., the average grocery store’s produce travels nearly 1,500 miles between the farm where it was grown and your refrigerator.  About 40% of our fruit is produced overseas and, even though broccoli is grown all over the country, the broccoli we buy at the supermarket travels an average of 1,800 miles to get there. Notably, nine percent of our red meat comes from foreign countries, some as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

Our food is trucked across the country, hauled in freighter ships over oceans, and flown around the world. A tremendous amount of fossil fuel is burned to transport foods such long distances, releasing carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and other pollutants that contribute to global climate change, acid rain, smog and air and sea pollution. The refrigeration required to keep our fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats from spoiling during their long journeys burn up even more fossil fuel. In contrast, local and regional food systems produce 17 times less CO2.

This information came from The Sustainable Table, to read more visit

My Sunday Visit to the Market
Yesterday I visited one of my favourite farmers’ markets—The Warwick Valley Farmers’ Market. The pictures at the top of the post are a few of my snaps from the day.  I came away with a fantastic haul of:

  • Fresh flowers
  • Homemade cheese & potato pirogis
  • Homemade artichoke-asiago ravioli
  • Homemade garlic marinara sauce
  • A gorgeous bunch of carrots
  • A basket of fresh raspberries
  • A pint of half-sour & new pickles
  • And a bag of delicious shallots
My favourite take-away—the flowers!


It’s going to be a good food week in my house! 😉

So what about you? Do you visit your local farmers’ market?

Comments (5)

  • Lou Mello

    June 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Saw your pics via Twitter and loved ’em. Lots of folks in the Charleston SC area are getting excited about Trader Joe’s coming to town. There are none close at all and the new one will be open this fall in our area. The lovely Miss Teresa and I lived in California for seven years before coming to Charleston and we had Trader Joe’s there and we loved the place. We will be all over this one when it opens.
    We do have some really good local Farmers Markets here as well and the biggest one is in downtown Charleston at Marion Park on Saturdays. It is really popular and reallly crowded so we try to get there before 9 am and be done within an hour.

    Since our growing season is so long, we have the Farmers Markets from early April until mid November so that is really a treat.

    1. Dena

      June 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm

      @ Lou – I am so pleased to hear that you are supporting your local farmer’s market, too! There is nothing like really fresh fruit & veggies. Our blueberry bushes are starting to ripen and some tomatoes & cucumbers are appearing on our vines. Even better than the market is food fresh from my own garden! 😉

      Ya’ll are going to LOVE Trader Joe’s!

  • Jules

    June 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Love your site, girl. And this post made me drool. Check out my new website too. I hope to inspire people as you inspire me. Love love love.

    1. Dena

      June 28, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      @ Jules – Thanks much, darling. I’ve checked out your site & love your mission. Keep it up! XOXO

  • crista

    June 30, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    love this post so much 🙂

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