A farmers market is a great place to find fresh fruits and vegetables, and much more, without the worry of what kind of pesticides or processing has been added to a simple, nature made food. Many towns have sections of the downtown dedicated for the local farmers to sell their wares during the harvest season. It is a win-win for both the farmer and the consumer.
It is simply good business for towns to allow farmers markets to exist. They attract business from locals who do not have to drive 30 minutes to a Wal-Mart to get wrapped produce that may have been sitting on the shelf for a week. For the shoppers, they get a taste of what unprocessed produce is like and save themselves the time and trouble of travelling to shop. Often the prices are lower than the retail supermarkets. Any good businessperson knows local purchases benefit local revenues.
For me, I am an organic food lover, and the prices these major retail supermarkets want for a quality piece of food is outrageous. The farmers market offers me all the advantages of organic at a price I can live with. I try to stock up with as much as I can. I need to mention that with fresh produce you need to read up on storage and canning methods to get the maximum benefit from your trip.
Here in Connecticut we have upwards of 50 farmers markets that are available to buy from. The cities of New Haven and Hartford have some of the biggest and most markets open to the public. But its not like there’s no competition from other surrounding states. Massachusetts, as large as it is and has about twice as many markets in the state, is not as much competition for us as you might think, as the biggest concentration is on the east side of the state. Personally, I prefer to stay close to home to minimize the amount of gas I use and conserve time as well.
If I had to choose two of the best farmers markets, one from each state, I would go with the Copley Square market held – where else? – in the middle of Boston. Staying home, I would recommend the Coventry Regional market. It’s more of an annual festival than a marker, where you will find entertainment and artisans as well as a wide selection of foods to pick from.
Now one reason you might decide to travel a ways is if you are looking for some specific food. One downside of the farmers market, which is especially true in the smaller towns, is that the best stuff has been picked through the first day or so. The earlier riser will get the best deals, so if your schedule doesn’t allow for an early start you may have to travel elsewhere to take advantage of the seasonal offerings.
Unless you are in the perfect locations, another problem with farmers markets is that they are not available year round, meaning they are not a dependable year round source to do all your produce shopping. Even with planning, any number of weather or crop related issues can dry up the opportunity for a single crop or perhaps the entire scheduled market can be cancelled. Think about the current drought out West.