The Open Air Market at the Phoenix Public Market is a program of Community Food Connections (CFC), a 501c3 non-profit organization. CFC creates a downtown community gathering place by supporting small farmers and businesses that strengthen sustainable food systems and produce healthy products for the local community.
Sustainability is the overarching theme in this community driven food system. Farmers engage in sustainable farming practices to produce healthy food to sustain the local community, who in turn provide the money necessary to sustain the farmers. Each shares in the success of the other in a mutually beneficial relationship that has become a model for sustainability.
Farmers who choose to use sustainable practices face a challenging economic climate dominated by large, corporate farms. Many find they cannot compete with the massive volume, low market prices, and government subsidies enjoyed by large operations. Farmers markets offer small and mid-sized farmers a low-barrier entry point to develop and establish a thriving business free from the overhead necessary to sell in large retail outlets. But just as important, farmers markets create a space where the focus of food is on quality and farming practices rather than price alone.
Each year, more and more customers are drawn to farmers markets due to an increasing demand for natural and organic food. This upward trend depicts a rising consciousness among customers who are concerned with not just what they eat, but how it is produced.
Farmers selling at markets minimize the amount of waste and pollution they create. On average, food travels over 1,000 miles from the point of production to the retail store. In contrast, the Phoenix Public Market houses farmers growing within a 50 mile radius of our Market! Many use certified organic practices, reducing the amount of synthetic pesticides and chemicals that pollute our soil and water. A growing number are also adopting other low-impact practices, such as on-site composting, that help mitigate climate change and other environmental issues.
How you can help reduce waste:
Reduce Food Waste: Most supermarkets refuse to carry cosmetically challenged fruits and vegetables, which means many of them end up rotting in landfill where they release methane gas, a green-house gas more potent than CO2. That ugly produce accounts in part for the 40 percent of food wasted in the US. At the farmer’s market, the sizes and shapes of food vary. And some vendors offer a discount for not-so-pretty—yet organic—produce. So don’t be afraid to shop blemished produce.
Reduce Plastic Use: Another aspect of farmers’ markets that is usually overlooked is that you can control the packaging. To be more eco-friendly you can politely decline the plastic bag, or reuse last week’s produce bags by bringing them back to the market with you. Reducing the use of plastic bags and plastic packing wraps can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. Packaging is one of the most disposable things in everyone’s daily life and it often seems hard to curtail. Worldwide almost 2 million bags are used each minute, which figures out to be a trillion bags each year. If you consider the life cycle of the plastic bag, the energy consumed, the CO2 emitted and consider that most plastic bags are made overseas and distributed globally; a whole new picture of consumption starts to emerge.
The real question is do you need a bag at all? This is where being an eco-friendly consumer can factor in. Do you need to put all of your different kinds of fruits and vegetables in their own plastic bag? Can you reuse your produce bags from last week?
Discover more on Earth Day | Saturday, April 22nd
Earth Day theme for 2017 is Environmental & Climate Literacy.
Read the full story »