In preparation for this issue of Canonsburg Magazine, we attempted to find the number of farmers markets in Pennsylvania. It was an exhausting but ultimately futile search. Suffice it to say there are dozens upon dozens of what increasingly have become successful pop-up town squares in cities large and small – and more are created and flourishing every year.
One needs only to look a little south – to Washington – to see the positive impact such markets have on a community. Washington is alive with music, vendors and most importantly, foot traffic – lots of it – during its weekly markets. The positive economic and social impact on the city is apparent. And old timers will no doubt tell you that when the farmers market is open, it reminds them of the busy, bustling Washington of generations past.
This issue’s Take 10 feature focuses on Mayor David Rhome, the force behind Canonsburg’s new market. In the meantime, here’s our own Take 10 – 10 reasons that it deserves your support.
1. It’s fresh food. Did you know the average distance from farm to table in the United States is 1,500 miles? At a farmers market, it’s generally 1.5-15 miles from field to kitchen. Also, the fruits and vegetables you buy are probably harvested that very same day.
2. It’s healthy food. More than likely, the products are not flush with preservatives and artificial coloring.
3. It’s diverse food. No doubt, you’ll find some specialty or even exotic fruits and veggies available. Sometimes, it just may be items grocery stores overlook. For instance, we rely on farmers markets to find spaghetti squash – a not uncommon item that many supermarkets just don’t bother to sell.
4. It’s environmentally friendly. There’s no need for extra packaging or fuels to ship the products in from other states (or countries).
5. It’s an economic stimulant. The market not only supports area farmers, it also brings foot traffic into the downtown area.
6. It’s a social event. You’ll get to know your local farmers, neighbors, area movers and shakers and even hear some local musicians.
7. It’s better for you. If one trip to the farmers market replaces even one visit to a fast-food venue that week, it’s a victory for your health and well being.
8. It’s a win-win. Fresh food ... and fresh air.
9. It’s a teachable moment. It’s a good way for kids (and adults) to know what fruits and vegetables are in season (and at their freshest). And vendors are more than happy to share stories on how their products are planted, grown and cultivated.
10. It’s a 21st-century town square. It’s no secret that downtowns across America have been struggling, but farmers markets are helping to reverse that trend. Many markets feature hot food, candles, crafts, clothing and homemade wine. And as the markets grow, so do your shopping options.
So have another hit of fresh air – and fresh produce. It’s trendy – and healthy, too.