On every Saturday morning, Saint George Green Market is held by the organization called Grow NYC on St. Mark’s Place and Hyatt St on Staten Island. Local farmers on Staten Island and from New Jersey come to sell their fresh products such as vegetables, cheese, bread, and fruits and people in the community come to buy the flavorful foods.
I saw a little kid running to a bakery section in the Green Market and saying “Can I have a blueberry muffin?” It made me smile because I can rarely see this heartwarming scene at a big-chain supermarket.
Why is it important to shop at Green Market?
Green Markets are producer-only markets. Everything that is sold here is grown, raised, caught, processed or baked by the farmers selling it. You can buy their product before it gets bad, because it is not the product that is imported from far away, and also you can get to know who grew the food or ask them how they made it.
Moreover, purchasing local foods means that you are supporting local farms and families. If they sell their products to a big supermarket, they cannot get full retail price for their products, and wholesale price is very low comparing to selling the foods directly to customers. Therefore, you can build your community and help the farmers’ families to keep their business by shopping at Green Market.
There is another point of building a community by going to Green Market, because it can be an opportunity to get to know your neighbors. Seeing people in a community and exploring local foods together at Green Market are the best way to built a good connection with your neighbors.
What is the current issues facing farmer’s market?
Even though Green Markets offer us fresh, healthy and flavorful foods, they don’t give everything that we need. Instead, we heavily depend on big supermarkets to get groceries, such as sugar, paper towel, chocolate chip, oil etc. Supermarket is our reality. Even if the quality of food in supermarket is not as good as farmer’s market, we are still satisfied with its price and convenience and even appreciate them.
In fact, the mass-produced imported vegetables in supermarket, tomatoes for example, are usually picked up before they are ripe to avoid them going bad, and it takes one month the color of the tomatoes turns red. Since they are harvested too early and not ripen naturally, these foods are not fresh and lack lots of nutrition.
One of Grow NYC stuffs talked about how hard for local farmers to compete with big supermarket during interview. Since supermarket use cheap labors to produce goods in large quantities (mass production), they can sell foods and other groceries cheaper and most people tend to buy those stuffs because of the price.
Also, Farmer’s market is not always available in the community since it is held once in a week. Therefore, it is not familiar with all the people in the community and not as convenient as big supermarket because of its limited time.
Farmer’s market is one of important opportunities to get locally grown foods. If it disappeared, it would be getting hard to eat fresh local products especially in the city. In addition, not only it becomes difficult to get the local foods, but also it would affect the business of small farms. If they cannot run the business by selling the local products, it would be getting hard for them to keep their farmlands and they might have to give up their properties for development. And finally, no one can get fresh local foods, and what we can get is only mass-produced, a less nutritious foods.
Selling directly to customers and buying their local foods from them mean supporting your regional economy and being proactive each other. If farmers could get paid more by running their business locally, they would not need to sell their farmland for development, also we can continue to get fresh delicious foods. Purchasing locally grown food leads you to reinvest in your community and helps preserve the agricultural landscape.