There’s nothing as exciting as the buzz of a market day. When you walk in there’s the smell of fresh-picked produce, the hum of voices, and smiling faces at each stand. While each year brings new changes, the routine of the local Amish farmers market remains a steady part of PA tradition.
In each generation, local markets bring farmers, craftsmen, and neighbors together. The Markets create a community where everyone gathers to support each other’s way of life.
With the rising trend of buying wholesome, locally-grown food, your neighborhood farmers market is the perfect place to visit! Whether you’re looking for quality produce, baked goods, prepared foods, dairy, or meat, the local market is sure to have a treat for everyone. Best of all, you know where your food is coming from and you get to meet the people that harvest it!
Here are some of the top benefits of shopping at a farmers market:
1. Fresh Produce Tastes Better
Grocery store suppliers usually pick fruits and vegetables early and let them ripen during transport. Since local crops don’t need to travel far to reach the farmers market, they stay in the field longer to ripen.
It’s common for merchants to pick produce the day or morning before a farmers market, meaning you’re able to experience what fruits and vegetables taste like at their peak ripeness. That’s a tasty advantage!
2. Buying Fresh is Healthier
Produce in particular goes through a lot to reach the traditional store shelf. It spends a lot of time traveling on trucks or planes and sitting in warehouses. During that time, your food starts to lose the valuable nutrients it can offer.
Fresh foods at your local market lose fewer nutrients since they have a shorter time span between the farm and your table. You are what you eat, right? So if you’re looking to eat foods with healthier sustenance, consider your farmers market produce stands.
3. You Can Become a Better Chef
Sometimes you need new inspiration when it comes to experimenting in the kitchen. The folks at your market can help!
Many of them have grown up around the food they’re selling and may have family recipes or tips of their own they can pass on to you. Or you can simply gain inspiration by browsing each of the stands and seeing what’s in season.
4. Learn & Try New Foods
Your local market has seasonal foods you might be unfamiliar with since they’re not always found at a grocery store. Plus, you get to learn what regional food around you looks like in each season.
Additionally, Amish markets are known for their delicious array of baked treats and hot foods. Some of the regional favorites you can try include:
- Shoofly pie
- Chicken pot pie
- Amish macaroni salad
- Whoopie pies
Food can be a fun way to learn about Pennsylvania Dutch culture and meet Amish merchants.
5. Educate Your Family
Markets are full of bright colors and exciting new foods. They’re a great place for kids to explore by seeing, tasting, and touching.
Visiting with family helps you start a conversation about living a healthy lifestyle and gives you a chance to introduce them to fresh produce and other goodies. Markets also allow your kids to meet new people and learn about their own community!
6. Supports Farmers
When you shop locally, you support farmers so they can continue growing. This reduces the chance that they’ll sell their land for development, which can lead to overcrowding and urban sprawl.
Additionally, supporting your farmers has a ripple effect on lots of other businesses and employees in the area. You’re not just keeping your farmer in business, you’re also keeping his feed mill, seed suppliers, farm equipment manufacturers, and farmhands employed!
7. Keeps Money Local
Farmers and craftsmen ultimately make 100% profit when you buy from them as opposed to when they sell goods through retail stores. Plus, that money is likely to recirculate through your local economy in the form of local taxes or by transactions for local goods and services.
8. Helps the Environment
Local markets allow farmers to sell their harvest without having to send it very far. Typically food in stores travels over 1,000 miles from the point of production to retail shelves. By keeping everything local, markets help cut down on the pollution caused by shipping food.
Plus, keeping farmland in use can help:
- Maintain open spaces
- Preserve a natural ecosystem
- Support biodiversity (a variety of life)
Shopping at a farmers market allows you to help those who are caring for the natural landscape in your area. Ultimately it ensures that your natural local ecosystem is there for the next generation to enjoy. When you shop at your neighborhood farmers market, everyone wins.
Want to experience authentic Amish farmers market benefits for yourself? Visit The Markets at Shrewsbury for traditional PA Dutch goods!
This blog was originally published on April 25, 2017. It was updated on March 25, 2020.