It's National Farmers Market Week, and what better time to learn some of the top reasons to support our local markets.

This week the Ottawa County Farmers Market is celebrating National Farmers Market Week! It’s a perfect time to talk about the 10 best reasons to support farmers markets in your community. Let’s look at this list from the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA):

Taste Real Flavors. Our produce has more flavor because it’s ripe. There is no long-distance shipping, gassing to stimulate the ripening process, or sitting for weeks in storage. Enjoy the Season. Buying at the market reconnects you with the cycle of the seasons in your area. Buying and eating seasonally guarantees fresh, delicious, and flavorful meals. Support Family Farmers. As large agribusiness takes over production in the U.S., small family farms have a hard time competing in the marketplace. This deters younger people from continuing their family farming businesses, which does not bode well for our agricultural future. Protect the Environment. Food traveling an average of 1,500 miles to get to your plate takes a large amount of natural resources, especially fossil fuels, which contributes to pollution and creates trash from extra packaging. Sustainable agriculture pollutes less water, land, and air. Nourish Yourself. Eating at the market means less processed foods in your diet. Fewer pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modifications. Less irradiation, waxing, and gassing of produce. Discover the Variety. You will be amazed at the produce you see at the market that is absent at the grocery store. A rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, watermelon radishes, purple potatoes, and so much more! Promote the Humane Treatment of Animals. You can rest easy knowing the chicken responsible for your farm-fresh eggs, and the pigs and beef providing your meat are allowed to live without unnecessary hormones and antibiotics, graze in large pastures, and feed on natural diets. Know Where Your Food Comes From. Meet and talk to the farmers and food vendors. Learn more about how and where your food is produced. Learn Tips, Recipes, and Meal Ideas. Who knows better how to prepare produce than the farmers who grow it? Vendors are passionate about their products and invest a lot of sweat and time into bringing their best to the market. Also, learn how to can/preserve, prep/cook from culinary and healthcare professionals that volunteer at the market each week. Connect With Your Community. Enjoy the seasonal weather and the live music while you shop. Bring the kids to learn a new craft. Meet up with friends and acquaintances from your community. Enjoy small-town life at its best!

This week, get your fill of summer’s best produce and local products. We will be giving away Market Cash, market t-shirts, stickers & more to everyone that participates in our “Farmers Market Haul” event. Joplin’s Rich Roberts will provide live renditions of “Rat Pack” favorites. Kids will be making painted veggie garden rocks.

Join us every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. at 225 B St NW in Miami. Credit, debit, SNAP, and Senior Benefits welcomed.