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While perusing the seasonal produce at the Farmers’ Market, my basket brimming with orange tiger eggplants, radishes straight from the earth, beautifully misshapen shishito peppers, and freshly-baked hearth bread, it occurred to me: Farmers’ markets make people happy.

Shoppers meandering the stalls, chatting with other shoppers, exchanging pleasantries and conversing with the farmers who grow their food, combine to encourage connectedness, openness and happiness.

Farmers’ Markets create the perfect recipe to meet new people.

It’s an easy place to strike up a conversation. “Oh, those are beautiful. Have you ever cooked with them?” If you are looking to connect with like-minded people, meet someone with whom you can be conversant, or perhaps you might even be looking for a date, give it a try. Go with the intention of starting a conversation with three people. Just practice talking with strangers. You’ll see… with each successful conversation it becomes easier and easier. Before you know it your walk through the market will be teeming with new acquaintances.

The Farmers’ Market also provides the perfect setting for an actual date or a fun evening with family or friends. Meet at the market, collect ingredients for your meal, take your bounty home and cook a meal together. Channel your inner designer and dress a beautifully set table. Marvel, appreciate and savor a truly farm-to-table meal prepared with the freshest ingredients and with love and care. It makes for a memorable meal, a feast for the senses.

The question begs to be asked: What is it about Farmers’ Markets that makes us feel more connected?

Farmers’ Markets create community.

Research demonstrates repeatedly that social connection is a key to longevity, improved mental health, and a general sense of happiness. As reported in National Public Radio’s program, This Emotional Life, “… people are happier when they are with other people than when they are alone… They also are finding that happy people are more pleasant, helpful, and sociable. So being around people makes us feel happier, and when we are happier we are more fun to be around, creating an “upward spiral” of happiness.”

In essence, “connecting with others is the single most important thing we can do for our happiness.”

This notion of connectedness at a Farmers’ Market runs much deeper than solely a place to meet others. It is an interconnected system that serves to reconnect us to our rural roots, the earth, and reminds us that we have a critical responsibility to be part of the food cycle, rather than just buyers at the local supermarket.

“Farmers’ Markets are essential in reminding consumers of the true value of food,” notes Rachel Black in her review of The Farmers’ Market Book: Growing Food, Cultivating Community. “It reminds them of the human labor involved as well as the fact that the acts of growing food and eating are also about care for the community and stewardship of the land.”

Simply put, Farmers’ Markets are good for the Earth.

The benefits of farmers’ markets are myriad. They:

  • ¬†allow us to eat seasonally.
  • give us the opportunity to buy food that tastes better and is picked at the peak of its flavor.
  • provide the opportunity to try specialty produce. Orange tiger eggplants, anyone?
  • support local farmers and aid in rural regeneration.
  • give us the opportunity to talk with the person who actually grows our food!
  • provide a hub of food-related community education, commerce and creativity.
  • reduces our carbon footprint — the amount of fossil fuels is drastically reduced in the delivery of the food from farm to dinner table. Next time you’re at the grocery check out where your fruits and veggies come from.
  • allow us to be an active, thoughtful participant in our own food production.
  • create an artist tableau with color and texture and a feast for the senses.

Clearly, it’s time to fall in love with the Farmers Market. Play an active role in the farm-to-table movement. Stay open, smile, speak to people. You may just meet your next date. At the very least you’ll walk away with a smile and a great recipe!

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