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Farmers market, Olympia, WA
Examining the local produce at a
farmers market in Washington State.

For centuries, food was traditionally grown and eaten locally, with town squares filled to overflowing with farmer's produce to lure neighborhood buyers on market day.

Globalization, of course, has changed all that.

Because fruits and vegetables can be grown using chemicals and genetic alterations to keep it fresh, foods can be shipped to markets thousands of miles away.

Today it is not uncommon to eat a meal with ingredients from three or four different continents!

And yet, while the global market brings greater variety to local supermarkets, an increasing number of wary shoppers have begun to question the price of such convenience. Not only is the global food market a major cause of rampant and unnecessary pollution (as food is shipped halfway around the world), the chemicals and genetic alterations necessary to give it longer shelf life are also being avoided by the health (and taste) conscious.

An alternative to buying into the mass production of food has increasingly been the community green markets or farmers' markets located in large cities or suburban areas now cropping up worldwide.

The benefits of buying local

fresh apples brought to marketThe 100 mile diet, food miles, and low carbon diets all refer to the same basic concept, which is that the food we eat should be grown or produced as close to home as possible.

Not only does the food grown closer to home require little or no additives, it also saves on fuel energy - and air pollution - that results from long distance delivery

Sticking to this principle, sometimes it is surprisingly more beneficial to get food shipped from further away. Growing tomatoes in Spain and shipping them to the UK, for example, is considered more environmentally friendly, since artificial light sources are needed to grow tomatoes in Britain requiring electricity not needed in sun-drenched Spain.

Generally though, a short distance between where food is grown and where it is eaten provides benefits to the environment and a fresher, more nutritious product. It also helps local farmers, who can now bring their goods to increasingly popular green markets. Meanwhile, smart urban shoppers can also purchase food that is natural, often more vitamin-rich, and cheaper when grown locally.

Where to find farmers markets in major US cities:

Atlanta Farmers Markets Farmers Markets in Los Angeles
Boston Farmers Markets New York Farmers Markets
Chicago Green City Market Portland Farmers Market
Metro Denver Farmers Markets San Francisco Farmers Markets
Farmers Markets in Houston Seattle Farmers Markets

More information about green markets around the Web:

Eat Well Guide
- Check out this database of local farmers' markets, farm shops, community gardens, food co-ops, restaurants, bakers and related online stores offering fresh or organic foods in the US and Canada searchable by keyword, state or province.

Local - Comprehensive US directory of farmers markets, food cooperatives, and online sources of organic foods nationwide including related blogs, free newsletter.

also see -> Eco-friendly Gift Ideas | Green Cities



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