Farmers' markets, sometimes called greenmarkets, are markets, usually held out-of-doors, in public spaces, where farmers can sell produce to the public.
Farmers' market produce is renowned for being locally-grown and very fresh. People argue farmers' markets allow farmers to pick produce at the peak of flavor, preserve the nutritional content of fresh produce, and since locally-grown produce does not travel as far to get to your table, the difference in mileage saves fossil fuels.
Farmers' markets often feature produce grown naturally or organically, meats that are raised humanely on pasture, handmade farmstead cheeses, eggs and poultry from free-range fowl, as well as heirloom produce and heritage breeds of meat and fowl.
Farmers' markets advocates believe the markets help farmers stay in business as well as preserve natural resources. Wholesale prices farmers get for their produce are very low, often near the cost of production. Farmers who sell direct to the public without going through a middle man get a better price. It can be shown that the preservation of farmland is important for the health of the environment and water supply. According to the American Farmland Trust, sustainable and managed farms conserve soil and clean water and provide a habitat for wildlife.
Farmers' markets are a traditional way of selling agricultural and home manufactured products. A weekly market day is a part of normal life in villages and town squares throughout the world. A good way for a traveler to sample local foods and learn about local culture is to attend market day, especially when it coincides with a festival, such as the Fiesta de San Antonio in many towns in Latin America. In France and other European countries, there exist street markets, as well as covered marketplaces, where farmers and purveyors sell. Farmer's markets are starting to appear online, such as with the new farmer's market portal yourlocalfarmers.com .
Some markets are carefully managed, with strict rules for pricing, quality and vendor selection. Others are much more relaxed in their vendor criteria. While the usual emphasis is on locally-grown/produced food and crafts, some farmers markets allow co-ops and purveyors, or allow farmers to purchase some products to resell.
Some farmers' markets have wholesale operations, sometimes limited to specific days or hours. One such wholesale farmers' market is the South Carolina State Farmers' Market, which is a major supplier of watermelons, cantaloupes, and peaches for produce buyers in the northeastern US. Farmers' markets also may supply buyers from produce stands, restaurants, and garden stores with fresh fruits and vegetables, plants, seedlings and |nursery stock, honey, and other agricultural products. Although this is on the decline, in part due to the growth of chain stores that desire national distribution networks and cheap wholesales prices --prices driven down by the low cost of imported produce.
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