Here are just 10 of the many reasons it’s healthier to buy food from farmer’s markets.

1. Freshness. Farmer’s markets sell recently picked produce — usually less than 24 hours since harvesting so it’s much fresher than store-bought.

2. Locally grown. Items at farmer’s markets have not “travelled” far. The carbon footprint to transport from nearby farms is teeny compared to what’s consumed over hundreds and thousands of miles by sea, air or long-distance trucking.

3. Nutritional value. Nutritional content is greater with fresh and local foods since they’ve been harvested recently and haven’t been sitting on grocery shelves, or in warehouses, or traveled long distances.

4. Better taste. Sample a strawberry that was recently picked. Not only does nutrition improve when eating local, seasonal produce, but flavor also skyrockets. Items are picked at their peak, not artificially “forced” or “restrained” from reaching ripeness.

5. Cleaner and safer. Farmer’s market produce is often grown organically or with far more care and personal attention. Produce sold in regular stores may be full of pesticides, fungicides, and other chemical fertilizers and sprays. Similarly, breads & baked goods aren’t pumped full of unhealthy preservatives that extend shelf life.

6. Custom sizing. Pick one or two carrots if that’s all you need. You won’t be forced to buy an entire bag. Same with other items. Buy portions that match your needs, which means less waste and less over-eating.

7. Control what you’re getting. Inspect items for freshness. You won’t be forced to buy items that are pre-packaged and hard to tell their quality. In stores, foods and herbs are often sold in sealed containers. How often do you get home and open them only to find they’re over-ripe, wilted, or slimy?

8. Keeps our communities healthy, too. The more we support local farmers who grow food in healthy ways, the more they–and their beautiful farmland–will flourish. Buying at local markets puts money directly into the pockets of local farmers and craftspeople rather than industrial conglomerates.

9. Free exercise. We can often walk or bike to the markets, getting free exercise. Besides, simply walking in the open air is a good way to get vitamin D.

10. Fun and educational for the whole family.  Engaging with farmers and local artisans can be full of discovery and excitement. Bring the kids. Ask for tips/recipes on how to prepare food in healthy, tasty ways. Bump into neighbors and friends. Enjoy a sense of shared belonging and caring. Shopping in grocery stores can be an isolating experience and a chore. By contrast, shopping at farmer markets reinforces social bonds and can be a fun activity for the whole family.