You'll know where your food comes from. The farmers and ranchers that I've bought produce and meat from have been very open to discussing where they make their food. I know right down to the small Alberta town where peas, lettuce, beans, and squash have come from. I've driven past those small towns on the highway. For other vendors, I can watch them make my food right in front of me. If pesticides and fertilizers are a concern for you, I've found that if you ask vendors are honest with you. They'll point out the things that have/haven't been sprayed.
It's a community. Farmer's markets have an awesome community. You'll get to know the vendors, and they'll remember you. I've even participated in salsa tasting competitions (so delicious). If you're looking for something specific, they'll help you figure out a way to get it, even if it's not from them. I've also been to markets where there are local bands and buskers performing. I used to work at a farmer's market for one of my jobs and it was awesome to hear how the plants that people bought weeks before were now blooming in their yards.
You'll find some cool stuff. Without visiting farmer's markets I never would have found amazing cherry pies from Watermill Bakery, vegetarian curry from Mom's Happy Kitchen, soft pretzels from Black Forest German Bakery, Thai vegan food from Heart's Choices, and all kinds of fresh veggies from Innisfail Growers. I've discovered some really great things just from checking out a new vendor or striking up a conversation with someone. Some of my favorite foods come from vendors that I never would have discovered if I hadn't step foot in a farmer's market.
You're supporting the local community. Sometimes I forget how many talented people there are right here in Calgary. You don't have to go looking very far or at a big brand to find some awesome products. Not only is your money staying within the community, but you're also supporting the livelihood of those around you. Having your money stay close to home means good things for everyone involved. Buying things at the farmer's market may be a bit more expensive than going to the grocery store, but I know I'm getting quality foods grown and made with passion.
You're being green. Shopping local means you're doing something good for the environment. Because veggies and other food don't have to travel as far, their carbon footprint is smaller than what you'd find at the grocery store. Shopping at the farmer's market also means that you're much more likely to be buying food that's in season and thus grown close by. By doing this you're cutting down on the amount of transportation it takes to get the food to you.
If you're looking for a farmer's market in Calgary, here are a few of my favorites:
- Northland Farmer's Market on Tuesday afternoons.
- Calgary Farmer's Market Thursday to Sunday.
- Symons Valley Farmer's Market Friday to Sunday.
Why do you visit your local farmer's market? What's your favorite thing to buy there?