farmer's markets resources and reasonsCommunity

Farmer’s Markets: Reasons & Resources

In support of National Farmer’s Market Week from August 7th to the 14th, Food Finder encourages everyone to get out and support our local farmers, fresh fruit, and vegetable vendors. Many areas of the country are food deserts, and to provide nutritious meals to our families, we must have fruits and vegetables available. Many Food Pantries do not have the ability to store perishable foods, so we must supplement. Wic has a beautiful Farmer’s Market program (details below) because they know that having an array of colorful foods is how we nourish and flourish!

Resources Below

10 Reasons to Support Farmers Markets

From: CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food.

sites/default/files/winter_paredez.jpgFrom savoring produce at the peak of freshness to meeting the people who grow your food, there are countless reasons to support farmers’ markets. Here are just a few!

1. Taste Real Flavors

The fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmer’s market are the freshest and tastiest. Fruits are allowed to ripen fully in the field and are brought directly to you—no long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, and no sitting for weeks in storage. This food is as real as it gets—fresh from the farm.

2. Enjoy the Season

The food you buy at the farmer’s market is seasonal. It is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavors. Shopping and cooking from the farmer’s market helps you reconnect with our region’s cycles of nature. As you look forward to asparagus in spring, savor sweet corn in summer, or bake pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the year’s turning.

3. Support Family Farmers

Family farmers need your support now that large agribusiness dominates food production in the U.S. Small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy.

4. Protect the Environment

Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes to pollution, and creates trash with extra packaging. Conventional agriculture also uses many more resources than sustainable agriculture and pollutes water, land, and air with toxic agricultural by-products. Food at the farmer’s market is transported shorter distances and is generally grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.

5. Nourish Yourself

Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed and grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification. Some of it has been irradiated, waxed, or gassed in transit. These practices may have adverse effects on human health. In contrast, most food at the farmer’s market is minimally processed. Many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible by using sustainable techniques, picking produce right before the market, and growing heirloom varieties.

6. Discover the Spice of Life: Variety

At the farmers market, you find a fantastic array of produce you don’t see in your average supermarket: red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, stinging nettles, and green garlic, watermelon radishes, quail eggs, maitake mushrooms, and much, much more. It is an excellent opportunity to savor the biodiversity of our planet.

7. Promote Humane Treatment of Animals

At the farmers market, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and eaten natural diets, and who have been spared the cramped and unnatural living conditions of feedlots and cages that are typical of animal agriculture.

8. Know Where Your Food Comes From

A regular trip to a farmer’s market is one of the best ways to connect with where your food comes from. Meeting and talking to farmers and food artisans is a great opportunity to learn more about how and where food is produced. CUESA’s seller profiles that hang at the booths give you even more opportunities to learn about the people working hard to bring you the most delicious and nutritious food. Profiles, articles about sellers, and a map of farms are also available on this website.

9. Learn Cooking Tips, Recipes, and Meal Ideas

Few grocery store cashiers or produce stockers will give you tips on how to cook the ingredients you buy. Still, farmers, ranchers, and artisans at the farmer’s market are often passionate cooks with plenty of free advice about how to cook the foods they are selling. You can also attend free seasonal cooking demonstrations by leading Bay Area chefs and evening classes on food preservation and other kitchen skills.

10. Connect with Your Community

Wouldn’t you rather stroll amidst outdoor stalls of fresh produce on a sunny day than roll your cart around a grocery store with artificial lights and piped-in music? Coming to the farmer’s market makes shopping a pleasure rather than a chore. The farmers market is a community hub—a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children or just get a taste of small-town life amid our wonderful big city.

Farmer’s Market Resources in Southern California

LB Fresh, in addition to Long Beach Famers Markets, gives pantry location details, as well as volunteer opportunities.

http://lbfresh.org/

State of California Certified Famer’s Markets PDF Listing by County:

https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/docs/CurrentMrktsCounty.pdf

Orange County:

https://www.orangecounty.net/html/farmersmarkets.html

WIC Nutrition Program:

https://www.fns.usda.gov/fmnp/wic-farmers-market-nutrition-program

WIC Authorized Farmer’s Markets:

https://myfamily.wic.ca.gov/Home/WICFarmersMarkets#WICFarmersMarkets

USDA Nutrition Program & Farmer’s Markets

https://www.fns.usda.gov/fmnp/wic-farmers-market-nutrition-program

Seniors Farmers Market

https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/SeniorFarmersMrktNutritionPrgm/

USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program

https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/grants/fmpp

NRPA Farmers Market resource

https://www.nrpa.org/contentassets/dc39f735cdf84adf8a31472f93113cb5/farmers-market-report.pdf

Good Veg Long Beach Farmer’s Markets:

https://www.goodveg.org/

Farmers Market Coalition

We Like LA Lists LA County Famers Markets with History and Facts About Each Location

Ecology Center Farmer’s Market Finder:

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If you have more resources or information on Farmer’s Markets, please message us in the comments section.

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why waste food wednesday blog postFood Waste

Stop Wasting Food: Plan It Out

According to the FDA, an estimated 30% to 40% of the food supply is wasted in the United States. This is a problem for several reasons. First of all, it costs a lot of money—more than $400 billion in 2019, according to ReFed. In addition, all the water, energy, and labor used to produce this wasted food could have been reallocated for consumption instead of lost. That means that we could not only be saving water and the environment, but helping to feed food insecure people as well.

As a full-time Nutrition and Dietetics student and intern at Food Finders, nutrition and reducing hunger and food waste are essential to my life.  In my junior year at California State, Long Beach, I learned how many people in the United States go to bed hungry every night, so many of them are children, and my heart broke.  I knew then that my passion for nutrition and eating for wellness was not all I would devote my time to.

Planning Reduce Food Waste

I have found out that most people are not aware of how throwing away food is changing our planet. Since working with Food Finders, A food rescue organization in Southern California, I have learned that reducing the amount of food that goes into landfills would help address climate change. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true! Food waste that decomposes in landfills releases methane—a greenhouse gas nearly 30 times as potent as carbon dioxide. And since 20% of U.S. methane emissions come from landfills, reducing food waste in landfills would help lessen methane emissions and improve our planet.

How can you help? PLAN.

Low-carb chicken enchiladas, black beans, and Spanish rice

Just by planning out meals each week, in most cases, I can prevent food waste in my home.  Having meals, fresh fruits, and vegetables ready for a busy week is a great feeling.  I know how life is. We get busy and forget what is in the refrigerator. Maybe they order pizza at work and your delicious leftovers go bad. It always made me feel bad to throw away a good meal but now that I know I am hurting planet earth too–well, we can all be better.

One of the ways I reduce my overall waste and save on my grocery bill is to plan out meals, cook them, and package them up for lunches and dinner throughout the week.

I just love the feeling of getting in my home, tired, hungry and opening up the fridge to a choice of delicious meals already prepped and ready to eat.

Avoiding Disaster: FREEZE ‘EM

It is super easy to forget fruits and veggies and when they go bad, it is fast! So I use the freezer to help me reduce food waste. I like to freeze most of my fruits for future use in smoothies, spreads, and salad dressings. I place the fruit in vacuum-sealed bags and label and dated them (you can also use zip lock bags but be sure to remove as much air as possible).

On those weeks when I have prepped and planned my meals and realize that I am not going to be able to eat them all I prefer to reach out to my neighbors. Most of them know I am nutrition student and now a #FoodWasteHero (who is mindful not to throw good food away) so they will usually take the meals off my hand.  Before I started working with Food Finders, I usually didn’t have a backup plan in case they couldn’t use them. Now I am a member of a social media group that is all about giving and receiving for free.  It is where I have witnessed the kindest of strangers cooking hot meals for group members in need and giving away perishables and non-perishable foods.  It makes my heart happy to see my community in action. 

Making A Plan

Start by writing out a grocery list with all the recipes you will cook this week. Not only will this save on your grocery bills, but it makes shopping faster. Next, have a prep day and cook everything you need, dividing portions into containers. Sometimes you can freeze meals, depending on what you are preparing for the week. Households throw away 43% of all the food that ends up in landfills in the United States. That is a horrible statistic and one that is very preventable with planning.

Get the whole family involved in the planning, prepping, and packaging. You might be surprised at how fun and easy it can be to #stopfoodwaste and help save the planet.

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Kelly Alarcon is a full-time student and Intern at Food Finders, Inc.

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