Beyond the pure healthy eating aspects, many organic consumers seek to be part of a larger community or experience. Buying local is a trend that spreads beyond organic production, but it dovetails nicely with the organic movement. Fresh markets are popping up all over the country. Florida is no exception with the number of farmer’s markets doubling in the past decade.
“The increasing popularity of farmer’s markets is due to a couple of factors,” says Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Charles Bronson. “First of all, people have become more health-conscious, so there’s more demand for fresh, high-quality produce — and that means local produce. Plus, our small farmers have become very aware of the benefits of direct marketing.”
It’s An Experience
For many, another motivating factor in the popularity of farmer’s markets is the experience. The markets are often abuzz with activity, creating a sense of community lost in the hum of modern-day life. And there is something special about touching and feeling the fresh, ripe produce artfully displaced at the vendor stands in local markets. In many cases, markets host more than produce vendors. The Tallahassee Downtown Marketplace has evolved into a weekly festival with live music, art and crafts, educational exhibits, and community outreach.
“There tends to be a social aspect to the markets,” Bronson says. “The old ties between the farmer and consumer are restored.”
Locally produced, organic produce offers consumers more environmental benefits than just products produced chemically-free. According to the Florida Organics Association, buying locally at farmer’s markets cuts down on the miles food travels and the amount of food packaging that ultimately ends up in landfills. The lower expenditure on transportation and packaging translates into more money in the farmers’ pockets, plus it adds to the consumers’ experience by allowing them to support their local farmers.