The Farmers Market Series-Part 1

There are so many things to look forward to with Spring approaching.  Flowers are blooming, the weather is getting warmer, and of course our favorite part of springtime- The farmers market! Here in Boulder, Colorado, our local farmers Market opens the first week of April, and of course, we are counting down the days until we can stroll down Pearl Street and pick up our favorite local goodies.

If you’re a die-hard Rollingreens fan, you probably already know that the Boulder farmers market is where Rollingreens was born. This makes the farmers market especially close to our hearts. Founders Lindsey Cunningham and Chef Ko revitalized an old amily food truck, and started whipping up some of their favorite loca, healthy yet indulgent recipes like, beet balsamic salad, bulgogi tacos, poblano stuffed cheeseburger, and Millet Tots.  Lindsey and Chef Ko soon realized their loyal food truck followers wanted their delicious millet tot creations more than just twice a week at the farmers market and thus, our packaged product line was born.

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Across America, “The number of markets has grown to 8,720…Total annual sales in the U.S. farmers’ markets are estimated at $1 billion dollars”(agmrc.org).  Farmers markets offer so much more than just produce and meats, many farmers markets offer baked good like pies and loaves of bread, coffee, chocolate, and even candy!  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert- the farmer’s market has got you covered.

 The Origin of the Farmers market

With all of the trendy “Eat Local” T-shirts and stickers and fancy juices, it might come as a surprise that the concept of the farmers market had a humble beginning. About 5,000 years ago, farmers and hungry community members would gather along the Nile to sell and trade fresh produce. Years later, the first farmers market was opened in 1634 in Boston Massachusetts.  While people seemed to take a liking to the concept of the Farmers Market, the overwhelming popularity and convenience of the grocery store stole the spotlight, “During the 1700s, 1800s, and the first half or so of the 1900s, grocery stores gained in popularity; consequently, interest in farmers markets fell.”(food history). Fortunately for the farmers market, the 1970s brought a new era of Americans becoming more health conscious and caring about the quality of their food, “In the 1970s, the public began to remember the quaintness of farmers markets, and all the access to fresh, healthy foods they provided.”(food history). The appeal of fresh, handpicked produce and locally sourced meat was becoming more of a priority, and since the depression had finally ended, Americans were more willing to spend more money on higher quality foods. In 1977, a farmer in Southern California had a surplus of peaches that he needed to sell, as a result, there were pounds and pounds of peaches dumped on the state capital’s lawn. Jerry Brown, Governor of California at the time allowed an exemption for farmers to sell their produce at farmers markets, “This shift in food laws yielded to the creation of markets such as the Gardena Farmers Market, one of the first farmers markets in Southern California.” Today, California is a leading example for states everywhere when it comes to farmers markets. The warm southern California weather allows for more farmers markets year round. California has more farmers markets than any other state, “There are over 700 Certified Farmers’ Markets in California. California Farmers’ Markets Association’s system of 14 markets serves over 26,000 households each week”(CFMA).

Why the Farmers Market?

The farmers market not only provides a bountiful selection of fresh produce, but it is also a great opportunity to support the local economy by supporting local farmers and small businesses. When times are hard and dollars are being stretched thin, locally owned small businesses usually suffer the most even though they are often the backbone of the local community. People become more volatile with their hard earned cash, which often leads to choosing the cheaper, non-organic bunch of bananas at the big chain grocery store rather than spending a few extra bucks on locally sourced organic produce. While the price difference is definitely a reasonable factor, there are so many substantial, long term benefits to the local economy that come with shopping locally. When you shop locally, the businesses you’re pumping your money into are more likely to utilize other locally owned establishments like banks, and service providers, thus making your dollar go back into the local economy, “For every $100 you spend at local businesses, $68 will stay in the community.”(Mass.gov). Independent retailers frequently offer a more personalized, friendly customer experience. When you shop local, you’re buying from familiar faces, owners of small businesses are usually right there on the floor with you ready to help as opposed to a large corporate conglomerate where talking to a customer service representative can take hours. Small businesses are also more likely to hold themselves at a higher level of accountability. Since their workers and patrons are their friends and neighbors, small businesses often take ethical practices more seriously than large corporations such as paying their workers fair wages and producing the highest quality products.  

Farmers Markets allow for smaller carbon footprints  

Not only are you supporting the local economy when you shop at farmers markets, but you’re also reducing your carbon footprint. When you buy from a local farmer as opposed to a big chain grocery store, your food only had to make the journey from the farm, to you instead of having to travel 1,500 miles from across the country just to make it onto your plate. By cutting the need for massive long term refrigeration, packaging facilities, and gas to make the trip, the effect your food has on the environment is significantly less harmful, not to mention your food is also much fresher! When you shop from local farmers you’re not only reducing your carbon footprint, but you’re protecting local land and wildlife. With the finical support of the buyers, farmers are able to stay in operation, keeping land from being sold to large developers. The main interest of these developers is usually to transform the land into commercial properties where they can build neighborhoods or office buildings, leaving the wildlife that once inhabited that area, homeless.

Take a trip around the world without having to leave your neighborhood!

Sure, walking into a conventional grocery store and buying the same chicken and vegetables for your Thursday night dinner is convenient, but Farmers Market’s open doors to locally sourced foods, some of which you could never find in a conventional grocery store. The farmers market provides an opportunity to try new foods that aren’t in grocery stores, taste cuisine from different small businesses like food trucks or up and coming food companies and be a part of a community. Every Sunday at the Pearl Street Farmers Market in Denver Colorado there is a brightly colored arepa truck parked in the same spot from the hours of 8 am to 1 pm.  Originating in Venezuela, these warm, pockets of dough are often filled with different meats, vegetables with a wide selection of flavorful sauces. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, these arepas can be found in the hands of hundreds of hungry farmers market goers while they browse the market. Any Denver native that knows what arepas are can tell you that this truck is the only one of its kind. There is not a plethora of arepa shops or Venezuelan cuisine around the area, making this truck a hidden gem for curious foodies. Other ethnic foods like empanadas, authentic tamales and curries can be found at the farmers market, and farmers market enthusiasts are quick to defend the authenticity of these divine, mouthwatering treats you can’t find anywhere else.  

With the farmers market season approaching us, follow us on our journey as we continue to investigate all the farmers market has to offer. From insider details, interviews with your favorite local farmers, we’ll unravel everything there is to know about the modern day farmers market.  

CITATIONS

Farmers’ Markets. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.agmrc.org/markets-industries/food/farmers-markets

Food history: Farmers Markets. (2014, May 22). Retrieved from https://www.erinnudi.com/2014/05/22/food-history-farmers-markets-2/

Think Local! 7 Reasons Why Supporting Local Business is Good for Your Community. (2013, November 19). Retrieved from https://blog.mass.gov/blog/consumer-advice/think-local-7-reasons-why-supporting-local-business-is-good-for-your-community/

Who We Are. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cafarmersmkts.com/about#about-cfma