Our community poll ending 6 September, 2010 asked the question, "Why don't you shop at farmers markets more often?"
One third responded saying, "I don't know where to find one." Another third responded saying, "Farmers markets aren't open when I want to shop." The rest responded saying, "It's too far to drive", or "The selection is not as good as at the grocery store."
One possible answer received no responses: "The products sold at farmers markets cost more."
Of course, all those answers are legitimate. State-run farmers markets are relatively few and far between. I know of five in Georgia: Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah. Clearly, that is too far to drive for most folks, and even driving across town is inconvenient for shoppers in larger cities.
Fortunately, many citizens are recognizing the value of eating locally-grown produce. In response to the demand, new organizations are popping up all over the country to sponsor weekend farmers markets in more locations. Local Harvest and PickYourOwn.org web sites are great resources for finding them.
It's true that grocery stores offer greater selections, many items being from far-away places like Mexico, Chile, China, Thailand, Guatemala. But if you're concerned about how your food has been grown and handled, you might prefer to buy directly from the farmer.
I do hope that local markets will eventually become more commonplace and convenient. But for that to happen, they must be supported. So I encourage you to find those farmers markets, pick-your-own farms, dairy, egg- and meat-producers, fishermen and shrimpers, and buy from them. In response, more local operations will become economically sustainable, providing more locations with greater selections to shop.