Farmers’ Markets Look Different This Season
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This season, Illinois farmers’ markets are transitioning from community gathering spaces to transaction-based, in-and-out markets due to COVID-19 conditions. Farmers’ markets return significant money to local economies, while a high percentage of profits from corporate chain stores go elsewhere. It is still possible to have safe markets within Illinois guidelines, and currently operating winter markets have already adapted. Now more than ever, these local producers and vendors need our support to buy their products so that they can survive past this unprecedented global crisis.
The Illinois Farmers Market Association has provided some things to know before heading to the market. First, check out the market’s social media page to keep up with changes. This is not a family event, limit attendance to one member of the household. Maintain a six-foot distance between yourself, vendor employees and other customers. Wear a mask. If you are sick, stay home. Follow recommended CDC hygiene practices. Preorder products where possible to speed up transaction process. Use credit and debit cards for purchases; if cash is used, do not expect change. Do not touch products at vendor stands. At home, wash all products thoroughly before using and regularly wash reusable bags.
Conventionally sourced produce travels about 27 times more distance than locally grown produce. Locally produced food means fewer intermediaries between the farmer and the consumer, and subsequently less handling of the food from field to table. Farmers’ markets have been deemed essential because they do not only ensure that people have easy access to fresh, nutritious and locally produced agricultural products, but are a vital component of the Illinois agricultural economy.