Off to market

Wondering what to do with your weekend, how to support local business and how to make a smaller environmental footprint? Local organic markets offer a welcome food-shopping alternative: fresh, seasonal food that tastes great, supports local producers and puts the heart and soul back into communities.

Ethical spaghetti junction

For the conscientious consumer, a simple weekly shop can become a maelstrom of choice and counter-choice. There are many, often competing, issues to consider. Organic? Local? Fairtrade? All three? It can seem impossible to reconcile the three, not to mention other considerations like budget.

Local, organic markets offer a refreshing antidote to this confusing mental ’roundabout’. Reassuringly human, they give you a chance to come face-to-face with local food producers and ask questions about the food you are buying.

Fresh ideas, better eating

Markets offer a ‘palate cleanser’: an-ever unfolding source of culinary inspiration. They remind us that food is not, and cannot be expected to be, at its best all year round. Eating seasonally has the added bonus of keeping our diets varied and interesting, by encouraging us to move with the seasons in our cooking too.

The markets are always keeping me on my culinary toes. Last week I was seduced by a pyramid of pumpkins stacked to a worryingly wobbly height. Roast pumpkin soup it is then. Shopping in this way becomes sensory: tastebuds start fizzing, recipe ideas bubbling.

Local health, local wealth

Supporting local producers harnesses the collective buying power of communities and directs it towards local farmers, growers and food producers thus enabling them to flourish. This in turn, helps to safeguard local jobs, keep communities thriving and food sources resilient.

Local food has clear environmental benefits. Fewer miles to travel from fork to fork, leads to reduced emissions and reduced energy consumption. Local food that is also organic has been produced without the use of pesticides or artificial fertilisers: resulting in a healthier planet and healthier people.

Community and conviviality

A weekly market is more than just a place to buy weekly provisions. My local farmer’s market is a place where our small part of a large city gets to transform itself into a thriving ‘village’ community once a week. A place to meet old friends and make new ones; somewhere you are as likely to learn about a new potato variety as you are a local event. Shopping in this way becomes less of a drudge or chore; it is relaxed, slower-paced, warm, convivial.

Find out about your local farmer’s market and learn more about organic food on the Soil Association website.