Philadelphia Farmers Markets

One of the inconvenient parts of living in the city is the dearth of farmland, open space, and rich earth. But Philly is surrounded by some great farmlands that have not yet succumbed to the Toll Brothers and suburban sprawl. From Lancaster to Hammonton - many farms are still hanging in there, and shoppers are becoming aware of the benefits of organic farming and the importance of supporting locally grown food. To this end, Philadelphia has established an excellent network of Farmers' Markets.

To find all of the markets you have to go to several sources. Farm to City sponsors about 12, The Food Trust sponsors a few more:
Urban market places are as old as civilization and played an important role in the formation of cities and the civic life of their citizens. Today, outdoor seasonal farmers' markets reflect these origins by providing a civilized and democratic gathering place for people to meet and purchase agricultural products from the region. More and more families and culinary professionals realize the importance of locally grown food for the health of their family members and customers, for the survival of family farms, for the preservation of farmland and open space, and for the security of the region's food supply. For these reasons, more and more families are shopping at farmers' markets.

Two of these operate all year round, including the Fitler Square market which I've been frequenting for cold weather, seasonal foods like root vegetables, breads, cheeses, and free range meats.

As Spring approaches, followed by the fecundity of Summer and Fall harvests, a burst of open air markets will be serving fruits, greens, vegetables, heirloom produce, meats, breads and dairy. One of the best is the excellent market in Headhouse Square.

Buying food at the Farmers' markets is often more expensive, but in coughing up a few extra dollars you are supporting local farms, sustainable agriculture, and limiting greenhouse production/transportation costs, farmland attrition, and even calories. The agribusinesses that feed our country have leached our foods of precious nutrients and trace minerals through mass production techniques, selection of produce varieties with good durability instead of nutritiousness, and highly chemical fertilization. Michael Pollan, in his book In Defense of Food, states that the average apple consumed in 2008 contains 1/3 the micronutrients of the average apple consumed just a century ago. Or something close to that.

What better way to honor the food we eat than to reestablish some earthy and humanistic connection to its source?

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