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Farmers markets can sometimes be a bit more expensive, but they’re brimming with fresh produce and charming folks. Why should you consider swapping your weekly grocery store trips for local market excursions? Well, here are five reasons:

1. Support Small Farmers. With large industrial farms monopolizing most of the produce you find in stores, farmers markets are one place where small farmers can continue to make a living. Just like you can control what industry you support by the food you put on your fork, you can choose to support small over industrialized by choosing to spend your money at the market.

2. Support Your Local Economy. Similar to supporting small farmers, supporting local farms puts money directly back into your local economy. Helping out small businesses, including local farms, is a great way to do your part and give back to your community.

3. Gain a Sense of Community. Even if your farmers market produce is a smidge more expensive than what you can get at the grocery store, or a bit more limited, there’s nothing like chatting with the farmer about his or her harvest, or running into familiar faces week after week. Shopping at the local market, the way people did before huge fluorescent-lit grocery stores were the norm, can foster a sense of closeness within the community that’s irreplaceable.

4. Eat Seasonally. By planning your meals around your farmers market purchases, you’re making the most of your meals using local ingredients. Since we’re so accustomed to being able to get any kind of product at any time of year in our grocery stores, we rarely focus on seasonal produce. Eating seasonally helps reduce your carbon footprint (less fuel used to transport those veggies!) and allows you to better appreciate those seasonal gems when they do make it to your plate.

5. Eat Fresh. Hands down, just-picked garden produce is fresher than anything you can purchase in the grocery store, which was shipped and stored for who knows how long. Produce tastes best when fresh–so dig in!

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