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THE POWER OF OUR FARMERS’ MARKETS

BY Stacy Whitman

At long last, summer is back – and so are our local farmers’ markets!

Maybe you shop our farmers’ markets because you love the fresh, flavorful, seasonal food. Since the produce is just harvested and hasn’t traveled far, it has superior taste and nutrient value.

A trip to the farmers’ market connects us with our community. We see friends and enjoy the local scene. It gives us a chance to get to know the farmers and food artisans who produce our food and to learn about their practices.

As they struggle against large agribusinesses, small local farmers need our support. Buying directly from them gives them a higher rate of return, offsetting their travel costs. Plus, farmers’ markets draw patrons to surrounding retail shops and restaurants. In 2011, Boise’s Capital City Public Market generated an estimated $4.5 million in economic activity in downtown Boise.

You’ve heard it before, but minimizing food miles enormously reduces our carbon footprint. Small regional farmers are often conscious stewards of the environment and use best practices to conserve water, enrich the soil and preserve wildlife habitats.

Kicking off this week, the Ketchum and Hailey markets feature vendors new and familiar. Freshly picked produce and handcrafted prepared foods are just some of the delicious offerings. In Hailey, look for Agrarian Harvest’s certified organic produce; in Ketchum, check out Wood River Greens’ broccoli and radish sprouts.

Local Food Alliance’s new Local Food Works booth will be at each market to provide Wood River Valley organizations an opportunity to engage and educate our community through the lens of local sustainably produced food.

Now through Oct. 13, stop by the Ketchum market Tuesdays, 2:30-6 p.m., or the Hailey Market Thursdays, 2:30-6 p.m.

Stacy Whitman is communications director of the Local Food Alliance, a nonprofit whose mission is to create a vibrant local food system in the Wood River Valley. For more information, visit www.localfoodalliance.org.

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