Pell City —
Question: I’ve been reading a lot about “eating healthy” and I see an increase in the number of farmers markets in this area. When I was growing up, a farmers market was usually several guys in overalls that pulled their trucks together by the baseball field on Saturday mornings. Tailgates served as tables, farmers and customers knew each other, and it was like a big party. People bought corn harvested that morning, took it home and ate it for supper. Are farmers markets still like that?
Answer: Well, yes and no. Farmers still bring their produce to locations where consumers buy vegetables, fruit, eggs, etc. directly from them without going through a middleman, such as a grocer. Historically, there wasn’t a store in many areas where people shopped for food, so the weekly farmers market was a critical part of the “food chain.” With the advent of modern conveniences, much has changed including what we eat, where it comes from, and how we prepare and consume it.
Worldwide, many populations depend heavily on these markets for social, cultural, and economic impacts. While many variations exist, markets are usually arranged with booths, tables or stands and can be indoors or out. In this area most are outdoor venues, and are held rain or shine.
What makes farmers markets an increasingly attractive alternative to grocery chains are the benefits accrued to farmers and consumers. For farmers, and these are usually smaller, “mom and pop” operations, local markets offer increased profits due to less transporting of produce—we know the cost of gas these days. There is less handling of produce, which translates into fewer hands and fewer health issues. Less refrigeration due to nearness to markets means fresher, tastier produce, and less time in storage impacts both economic and safety factors.
The Alabama Farmers Market Authority http://www.fma.alabama.gov/ is a state agency that encourages residents of the state to “Buy Fresh Buy Local” through its goal of “assisting in the marketing of agricultural products through information, leadership, and facilities needed to move products from the farm to the consumer.” Not only farmers markets, but farm roadside stands, U-Pick operations, and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) offer additional options for those seeking fresher, locally grown food. The website contains a list of markets available in your county as well as contact information for the market managers.
The St. Clair County Farmers Market opened on Wednesday, May 29th and will be open every Wednesday from 2—5:30 p.m. until September 18th. It is located on Hwy 231 North, just past the Pell City Post Office, in the gravel parking lot in front of Mary’s Mini Warehouses. The Market is a Farmers Market Nutrition Voucher Program Redemption Site. Stop “buy” and see for yourself, get to know the farmers/vendors, and take home a bag, basket, or box of locally grown, “delicious, nutritious” Alabama produce!