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Using Your Local Farmers Market

Using Your Local Farmers Market


local farmers market 
The phenomenon of Farmers Markets is not exactly a new one, but it is one which is increasingly becoming a feature of life in less rural areas than when the movement began to take off.  Bedfordshire boasts several good farmers markets, taking place across the county throughout the month - see www.farmersmarkets.net to find your nearest one.

The concept of the farmers market is nothing out of the ordinary - good, local produce supplied directly from the producer, and modern markets are now providing such a variety of goods that it is possible to do a large proportion of your weekly shop rather than simply being able to buy chocolate brownies or home made chutney.  All the produce is grown, reared, raised, baked, caught, or produced by the seller.  There is no middleman.  Some farmers are organic and/or free range and others aren't, but in general farmers markets can offer a great place to source good organic foods, and for those that don't, you can usually be sure that at least the mileage covered to bring you the food is minimal, and that you can question the supplier directly about production methods on the spot as you buy.  Any confusion with labelling will be minimised as although there will be virtually no labeling, you will be able to converse with the farmer or cook directly, and find exactly what additives or chemicals are used, where a specific animal was raised, or exactly what they mean by free range.  Not only this, but produce which has travelled less is likely to be both fresher and less bruised.

The question of price is an important consideration.  Cutting out the middleman such as a supermarket ought to make these markets a cheaper alternative for your shopping, but do bear in mind that:

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Supermarkets have loss leaders and can also squeeze much more value from suppliers by dominating the market so heavily.  Meat and other products may be younger, have less time to develop, and so are cheaper but quite possibly lacking in flavour.  Meat for example that isn't hung properly will probably cost less to produce but in the long run won't provide you with the same quality steak as something not slaughtered until it has had a chance to develop flavour, butchered in mass slaughterhouses and then packaged quickly so as not to lose water and therefore weight and price.  It isn't necessarily however a case of comparison - you are unlikely to buy cleaning products or tinned goods for example at a farmers market, and sometimes of course you do want produce out of its standard local season, for which supermarkets will always be very useful.  The point is more to make use of these fabulous local markets, enjoy the quality of produce and support local farmers into the bargain.


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