There is still this ongoing struggle that Farmers Markets go through in regards to their prices: people still think they are more expensive. Sure some things will be more spendy than a grocery store; grass fed meats when purchased by the cut, or pastured poultry costs more because farmers have to make living, and most CAFO raised animals are fed cheap, gov’ment subsidies like corn! If you’re just going to the local farmers market for things like vegetables (which all of us should be eating more of anyway), then farmers markets are actually pretty affordable compared to the grocery store, and when things are in season they can even be much cheaper.
Unfortunately in our Oregon climate, there aren’t many farmers markets open all year round. Luckily there was one going on this last Saturday in Beaverton, OR. The Beaverton Farmers Market runs a winter market. Even I was skeptical at what I’d find there, and was pleasantly surprised to find a decent variety of vegetables and other stuff. I purchased some really yummy pears, a variety I’d never even heard of that were bright red, as well as leeks and radishes. There were cabbages, potatoes, purple and orange carrots, kale, Brussels sprouts, pears, apples… Well you can see where I’m going with this. There was variety!
Apparently some farmers now grow things in green houses during the winter to keep the markets going, and this is great for those of us who like eating locally grown stuff picked the night before we buy it. Most grocery store vegetables and fruits have been shipped who knows how many hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of miles to get to our grocery carts. By then a lot of our produce has lost vital nutrients. The longer it sits on a truck, the more goodies it loses and our bodies miss out. Not to mention most commercially raised produce is lacking in vital nutrients from the start! Growing organically with natural fertilizers like manure and compost benefits the soil (and all the tiny lives that live in it!), and helps put back those vital nutrients into the soil. It isn’t something that gets replenished with the industry standard of NPK (industrial Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium fertilizers).
Even in a climate like Oregon’s there is a way to grow cooler weather crops in green houses to feed people. It gives the farmers a means to keep doing what they love (growing things), and gives us the consumer something healthy, affordable, and delicious to eat even in the winter.