Buy local – the Burlington Farmers’ Market

The following blog post was written by our high school co-op student Yasmine D.

Last week I visited the Burlington Farmers’ Market, which is operated by the Burlington Lions Club. After interviewing one of the vendors, I learned that they donate the proceeds from the Market operations to specific local projects and helping those in need, for example the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guide School to provide service dogs at no charge to people who need them. They’re also a member in good standing of the Farmers’ Market Ontario Association, which is the primary source for market information for managers, vendors and consumers. Farmers’ Markets Ontario is the only official provincially recognized organization representing over 180 farmers’ markets across the province.

A wide range of produce

I saw that they carry a wide variety of produce such as zucchini, tomatoes, and corn, as well as flowers and cheese.

Everything available at the Burlington Farmers’ Market is local. I learned that eating local foods reduces the distance that the food travels, called food miles, and the emissions produced during transportation, thereby resulting in a smaller carbon and ecological footprint. By eating local foods you also help reduce the environmental costs associated with your food. I found out that the local produce available at the Burlington Farmers’ Market is ripened on farms before being harvested and delivered. This means that the produce is allowed the time it needs to ripen fully before being picked and sold, whereas with grocery stores the produce ripens on the truck. Not only does this mean that the food will be full of flavor, but it will also be packed with more vitamins and nutrients.

Most of the vendors have been in the farming business for many years. I spoke to one of them from Stoney Creek and they told me that they have had farming in the family since 1968, and they travel to different local farms, such as in Niagara, to get their produce, which comes back to sell at the Burlington Farmers’ Market.

The food you buy at Burlington Farmers’ Market is seasonal. One of the vendors was telling about how the produce in season right now includes grapes, apples, carrots, squash and beats. Seasonal food is fresh and delicious and reflects the truest flavours. Shopping and cooking from the farmers market helps you to reconnect with the cycles of nature in our region. As you look forward to asparagus in the spring, savour sweet corn in the summer, or bake pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth and the weather. At the Burlington Farmers’ Market you also find an amazing arrangement of produce that you don’t see in your average supermarket such as red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, stinging nettles, green garlic, watermelon radishes, quail eggs, maitake mushrooms, and much more. It’s a wonderful opportunity to savour the biodiversity of our planet.

Family farmers also need your support, now that large agribusiness dominates food production. Small family farms have a hard time competing in the food marketplace. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy.

Visit the Burlington Farmers’ Market and support local farmers!