Farmers Markets have evolved over the years to become epicenters of food and entertainment. They’ve transitioned from a collection of stalls and tents to community gathering places. A location that is open and colorful and smells amazing from the fresh basil and sugary popped kettle korn. However, in order for our Illinois farmers markets to thrive in a post-pandemic local food system, we need to work harder to know our food, our community, and each other.
One easy way to support your local food system is to shop at a farmers market. Farmers markets provide access to fresh, healthy food, a safe shopping experience, and immediate and long-term benefits for Illinois communities. In addition, they offer a lot of other benefits, including the following:
- Farmers markets provide access to nutrient-dense foods direct from local farms, including fresh produce, meat, dairy, and more.
- Farmers markets offer a safe alternative to other means of purchasing food. Farmers markets are working to respond to community needs by offering handwashing stations, grab-and-go options, in-and-out markets, drive-through markets, and more.
- Farmers markets often take place in a spacious, open-air settings that provide room for practicing social distancing measures. The temporary nature of farmers markets also means that food is not left on the shelf for days or handled or touched by multiple people.
- Farmers markets offer shorter supply chains with less food handling. Farmers market food generally travels less than a few hundred miles from the field to the market, compared to 1,500 miles through conventional distribution channels.
- Farmers markets provide vital food access to people across our state. Customers using SNAP benefits can double their dollars to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at over 100 Illinois farmers markets.
- Farmers markets support local farmers and food producers. Investing in local food is critical to community food security, especially as we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. If we don’t invest in local farmers markets now, we may lose them in the future.
- Farmers markets strengthen the local food system, which is more important than ever for community health, the Illinois economy, and the environment.
Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois is committed to showcasing local food businesses across Illinois, including farmers markets. The farmers market listings in the Buy Fresh Buy Local directory include all the information you need to locate your local farmers market, including day and times of operation, amenities like parking, and whether the market offers food benefits programs to accept SNAP, WIC, and Senior coupons. Find your local farmers market today by clicking here. And keep up with what’s new in local food from across the state by following Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.