| Reasons to Shop Farmers Markets in Winter |
One way to make the harsh realities of winter a little lighter is to keep some of your warm weather routines and visiting the farmers’ market can be one of those summer habit holdovers. Winter markets offer an entirely different approach to local eating, one that is full of creativity and inspiration for trying new and interesting products.It’s possible to eat local year-round once you consider all the fall produce that is meant for storage, breads and pastas, eggs, and greens that are grown under cover thanks to the season extension techniques our savvy farmers use.
It’s not difficult to create nutritional and healthy meals in the winter out of local food. Think of all the squash, potatoes, dried beans, proteins such as meat and tofu, spinach, beets, and apples that can fill your plate! And by the time you’re ready for a change, March and April bring more opportunities for fresh early produce again.
Here are some reasons why you should plan on shopping the market this winter….
GOOD FOR SHOPPERS
The most obvious benefit to customers is that a winter market allows you to continue having access to local, healthy foods. For many people, however, this may mean being exposed to foods, especially winter vegetables that they may not have had before. In many households, winter means that the veggies and fruit we eat are packaged, either canned or frozen and shipped in from other places so that we can continue eating things that aren’t in season. At a local market, everything that you buy is going to be growing locally, so you may discover new squashes or fruits that you’ve never had but learn that you love.
Sustainable and healthy eating habits
Remember that local food is typically healthier food full of nutrients. That doesn’t change in the winter even when we’re talking about root crops like potatoes, beets, and radishes that can be preserved or stored. Yes, any type of preparation or storage of foods will diminish the nutritional value, but food that starts locally and grown in sustainably managed soils starts off with higher nutrient values. So, when you’re trying to get the most nutritional bang for your buck, shop for local produce and meat and ask your farmer about their growing and production processes. (Side note, winter markets are a great time to get to know your farmers and local vendors since they’re typically not as busy as summer markets.)
GOOD FOR FARMERS
Winter markets allow farmers to expand the selling year and decrease the length of winter months when sales are slow. It also gives farmers the opportunity to enhance their relationships with local community members. Often there are customers who frequent the same farmer repeatedly during the summer month but lose touch or forget about them during the winter. A winter market is also a good space to promote a CSA that will be ramping up in the spring and work to level out that winter revenue dip.
Support farmers and the local food system year-round:
This is pretty straightforward, but in case you didn’t know, farmers don’t take the winter off. This is a key time to support them by purchasing local produce and meats as they begin to plan and prepare for next spring. Budget and crop planning spreadsheets, equipment repairs, and animal care are all tasks happening every day on our local farms. Keep that in mind when you’re thinking about stopping by a grocery store instead of the market and remember your part in keeping our local food system strong.
GOOD FOR COMMUNITIES
Local food access programs
Oregon City Farmers Market believes that fresh, local, and healthy food should be available to everyone, regardless of their budget. Many foods access programs, like SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks, offer incredible local food and farmers’ market benefits for low-income families and individuals in our area. For these members of our community, the winter farmers’ market is another healthy avenue to use these benefits and a major reason why winter farmers’ markets are important to communities. As a reminder, our market offers up to a 20.00 SNAP match! If you haven’t used your EBT card at our market yet, please stop by our Information Booth! We’re happy to get you started!
So, what are you waiting for? Join us this winter as we celebrate the season with a full market of incredible vendors. We hope to see you!