Take It Slow This Summer And Become A Farmer's Market Regular For Your Mental Health

When you think of summer, a few things come to mind. Hot and sunny weather, backyard barbecues, weekend beach trips, and scrumptious seasonal produce, of course. Juicy watermelon, sweet mangos, the biggest red strawberries — is your mouth watering yet? Now, you could go to the supermarket like everybody else, with its long lines and crowded aisles, or you could venture to the nearest farmer's market and shop for fresh, locally grown food.


There are thousands of farmer's markets across the country, often popping up seasonally to sell on the weekends, depending on your location. If you're unsure where to start, the U.S. Department of Agriculture website has a local food directory to help you find a market near you. They also provide a seasonal produce guide to let you know the best times to buy certain foods throughout the year. We could all use some more time outside, so try something new and head to your local farmer's market this summer. You won't be disappointed! 

Nutritional benefits of local produce

At the grocery store, we're not always sure where our food is coming from, how it was grown, and what types of processing it has gone through. It takes several days to get to your grocery store, and then it may sit on the shelf for a few days before you buy it. The produce at a farmer's market, however, has been grown locally and freshly picked, making it more nutrient-dense. This means you're getting the food at its best and healthiest quality. "When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, the shorter the time and distance from farm to sale, the higher the levels of vitamins and minerals," says Melinda E. Cater, a dietitian at Johns Hopkins Medicine.


More often than not, the people selling at the market are the ones growing and harvesting the food. Not only are you buying food at its peak freshness and ripeness, but you also get to talk to the people who produced it. They can answer any questions you have about their farm, and you'll feel more involved in your meal planning. You'll know exactly where it comes from and where your money is going.

Shop local and support your community

Small businesses are truly the heart of our communities, and it's always a good idea to shop locally when you can. Instead of the money going to a corporation, it's going directly to the people who make or grow the food itself. At a farmer's market, business owners and farmers from your area have an opportunity to provide their high-quality food and goods to the community. If you're looking to support women-owned businesses, you can certainly do so at a local market. 


We usually try to get in and out of the supermarket as fast as we can with little to no interaction, but farmer's markets have proven to be a positive community hub for many people. A study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology compared those who frequently went to supermarkets and those who went to farmer's markets. Researchers found that more than three-quarters of the supermarket shoppers arrived alone, while over three-quarters of the farmer's market arrived with other people. The farmer's market shoppers also had more social and informational conversations compared to brief and rushed conversations at the supermarket.

Farmer's markets help build healthier communities as well. They're especially helpful in areas where people don't always have access to fresh produce and healthy options. There have been more efforts over the years to bring green spaces to urban areas. Grow NYC, for instance, has built over 150 community gardens across New York City.


Wide variety of goods

You can find a lot more than just fruits and vegetables at most farmer's markets. Sometimes, there are handmade candles, jewelry, crafts, baked goods, fresh honey, pet treats, artisanal soaps, and even clothes that might inspire you to take up crocheting as a hobby. The list goes on and on. Maybe you'll fall in love with a hot sauce you can only find at the market, or you'll come across a pie stand that makes apple pies almost as good as your grandma's recipe. You'll likely find treasures that you wouldn't typically find at a supermarket, and this will certainly help you become a better gift giver


Whether you're by yourself or in the company of others, a farmer's market is a refreshing change of scenery when it comes to shopping. You don't even have to buy anything — simply checking everything out and talking to the sellers is a fun experience in itself. It can be a wonderful thing to look forward to each week.  

A good bang for your buck

Recently, we've seen grocery prices soar higher than they've ever been, leaving a lot of people on a tight budget when it comes to food. You may have heard people say that farmer's markets are pricey due to the food's high quality, but it turns out that these prices aren't too far off from the grocery store. "The gap between the price you'd see at a farmer's market and grocery store is getting smaller," dietitian Adante Hart explains to CNBC


Farmer's market prices may vary depending on where you live, but even if the prices are a bit higher than the grocery store, it might still be worth the extra dollars because you're getting the freshest and most delicious foods. These markets are also inclusive for those eligible for government food programs. According to the USDA's SNAP benefits guide, there are many farmer's markets that accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).