Photo: NatalieMaynor (Flickr)
Buying local produce is a win-win situation — produce has less travel from farm to plate, in-season produce is of better quality and local markets support the local economy.
A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists has confirmed the impact of farmers markets and calls for policy changes to support farmers markets.
Farmers markets create jobs — the report states, “Modest public support for up to 500 farmers markets each year could create as many as 13,500 jobs over a five-year period.”
Local farmers markets keep money within the local economy. Patrons to markets are also more likely to shop at nearby businesses, the report says.
The report calls for prioritizing local farmers by increasing funding and research, supporting farmers financially through the credit system, and setting certification standards for markets. The report also calls for food stamps to be accepted at local markets.
The Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) included fresh produce two years ago on their program. Local producers have taken notice and provide produce and information in an easily digestible way.
Some markets, like those in Salinas and Nevada County, California, already use community support to provide fresh, local produce to mothers on the WIC program.
Farmers too gain from the use of WIC vouchers at local markets — in California alone, summer vouchers total $500,000 dollars.