Is there anything better than farm-fresh produce? Especially when you can enjoy it in peak season within a day or two of being picked? Sure, it’s always nice to know that your favorite traditional grocery store has all your favorite fruits and vegetables year-round. You never have to worry about waiting for spring to enjoy strawberries or fall to enjoy apples. But when you can, going the fresh route is a whole different eating experience.
Farmers’ Markets Annapolis/Severna Park/Crofton
That’s why I always tell people you need to check out a farmers’ market! These regularly held events give a time and a place for local farmers from all over your area to come together and sell what they grow, and they’re increasingly popular for many reasons.
USDA Recommends Farmers’ Markets
In fact, the USDA strongly encourages people to shop at local farmers’ markets when they get the chance. A farmers’ market lets you establish a relationship with the people who are growing your food. You might even get to ask the farmers directly about when the produce was picked (yesterday? Or maybe even just that morning?), how you should store it, and any preparation tips they have to offer. The farmers might even offer secrets about how to start your own vegetable garden with the seeds from the produce.
Farmers’ Markets Are Good For The Economy
Furthermore, shopping at a farmers’ market benefits your local economy by keeping the money you spend right here in your area (instead of going to a big farm halfway across the country or across the world). In some cases, your produce might be less expensive or your farmer gets to keep more money (or, ideally, both!) because buying directly from the farmer cuts out middlemen like shippers and distributors. This is a reason why the Foundation for Economic Education encourages patronizing farmers’ markets, noting that they are much better for the economy than even a locally owned grocery store.
Farmers’ Markets Are Eco-Friendly
In addition to being economical, farmers’ markets are much more environmentally friendly. Food has to be transported a far shorter distance, meaning lower energy consumption and fewer fossil fuels wasted. There’s also less waste because the produce probably hasn’t been packaged with plastic wraps or foam containers.
Freshly Picked Means Healthier As Well
Remember how I mentioned the farmer might tell you the produce was picked yesterday or just that morning? That’s quite a contrast to buying produce that was grown days or weeks ago, then shipped for many miles over the course of many days. You’ll be amazed at how much better these fruits and vegetables taste when they’re so recently picked — not to mention picked in peak season. Fresh also means it’s richer in nutrients, so it’s healthier for you.
On the subject of health, many families find that they are better eaters when they shop at farmers’ markets. They get exposed to a wider variety of foods they wouldn’t normally try, and they find themselves more inclined to cook at home with all their fresh fruits and vegetables. If you’re a parent, you might even find that your kids are more receptive to trying new fruits and vegetables once they’ve met the farmer and learned about how their food is grown.
Farmers’ Markets Offer A Wide Array Of Products
It’s not just fruits and vegetables. Many farmers’ markets will have other wares straight from the farm, including meat, dairy, or eggs from livestock raised without hormones or antibiotics. You might also find fresh baked goods, local honey, flowers, or artisan-made soaps, shampoos, salts, sugar scrubs, bath bombs, and other crafts.
As the Maryland Farmers Market Association says, “We love farmers’ markets because they support local agricultural producers, provide access to fresh foods, and serve as positive community spaces. Our programs aim to support the economic viability of market farmers and vendors; increase access to quality, nutritious food for all; and improve customers’ farmers market experience.”
And if you’re interested in checking out a farmers’ market, you’re in luck — the Anne Arundel County area has a couple of options that are regularly occurring and easy to access.
First, be sure to check out the Anne Arundel County Farmers Market, located at 275 Harry S. Truman Parkway, in Annapolis. First organized by the county’s Office of Planning and Zoning in 1981, this farmers’ market has grown from only a few vendors meeting sans building a few times during the summer into a 50-vendor event happening all year long at its own site on Riva Road. Today, the market is sponsored by Anne Arundel County Farm Preservation Board, Farm Bureau, Co-operative Extension Service, and the Department of Agriculture.
Stop by Sundays year-round 10:00 AM-1:00 PM; Saturdays 7:00 AM -Noon (April through December); or Wednesday 7:00 AM -Noon (June through September).
You can also check out the Severna Park Farmers Market, located at the intersection of Ritchie Highway and Jones Station Road in the MTA Park and Ride Lot, held every Saturday from 8:00 AM -Noon April through October.