ERROL CASTENS: Opening day at farmers' markets: 'Fresh best!'

Before I start wooing you with my annual “buy local” reminder, here’s a caveat: I’m both a vendor and a board member of the Mid-Town Farmers’ Market.
By the way, that market opens Saturday morning and runs from 7 to 11, a few blocks north of the Square in Oxford at Mid-Town Shopping Center.
Other markets will be open in the region soon, too – Tupelo, Booneville, New Albany and others.
There are some compelling reasons to buy local:
- Freshness and flavor.
Local food is fresher than food shipped long distances from other states or countries. Locally grown lettuce was probably picked the day before, not a week ago, so not only does it taste better and has more nutrition, but it’ll last longer in your fridge, too.
Another benefit: Local farmers can offer produce varieties bred for taste and freshness rather than for shipping ability. When tomatoes come along in June, for instance, there’ll just be no comparison to those that cross several state lines to get here.
- Support endangered family farms.
Farms are disappearing at a fast clip, but buying from them helps keep them in business. Not only do quaint barns, rolling pastures and verdant fields make for a beautiful countryside, but they also give our nation food independence – something even more vital than energy independence.
- You’ll strengthen your local economy.
When you buy from local farmers, you help keep other small-town businesses viable, too. Your local farmers buy seeds, fuel and other inputs from other local merchants, all of which helps preserve jobs and tax base in your community.
- You’ll safeguard your family’s health.
Knowing where your food comes from and how it is raised enables you to choose safe food from farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified seed in their operations. No wondering where the next food scare will come from.
- You’ll protect the environment – and the world.
Local food doesn’t take as much petroleum to get it from the pasture or field to your table. For some, that’s important because it reduces their carbon footprint. For others, it’s important because it means fewer dollars going to the most volatile part of the world.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

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