Think global, eat local

 - Courtesy photo
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Let’s start with the statistics.

According to the Washington State Farmers Market Association, over the past 10 years, the number of farmers markets recorded throughout the state has doubled.

What’s more, sales have quadrupled.

And one more item from a local food economy study (including Kitsap, King, Pierce and Snohomish counties) recently published by students from Seattle University — it found for every $100 spent at a farmers market, an average $62 goes back into that market’s local economy while nearly all of the revenue generated stays in state.

As you might guess, the local and state return on the same amount spent at corporate grocery stores is not so much.

Those are just a few tidbits that state Farmers Market Association administrative director (also market manager for the Poulsbo Farmers Market) Jackie Atchison will share at 2 p.m. May 18 at Barnes and Noble in the Kitsap Mall, as she discusses “Supporting Your Local Farmers Market.”

In addition to that local economic picture, she’ll also highlight some market ingredient recipes, market shopping list tips, environmental issues and more reasons why the seven different farmers markets in Kitsap are the place to be when they’re in season.

“You can’t get it any fresher, you can’t get it at any less of a carbon footprint,” Atchison noted of farmers market produce.

With the increasing environmental consciousness of the masses feeding a frenzy of sustainability — and everyone and everything “going green” — it’s important not to forget the little things.

Before running out to spend thousands of dollars on solar panels and equipping the family sedan to run on pure vegetable oil to help save the planet, there’s a few habitual lifestyle changes that have potential to go a long way.

In this instance — local produce at the dinner table.

“In most cases in the seven farmers markets in Kitsap County, most of the farmers that sell there live within a 10-mile radius of the market,” Atchison said.

While that aspect of farmers markets is great for the environment, Atchison noted it’s also good for consumers — especially in the wake of the recent tainted meat and e coli-contaminated spinach scares — to know exactly where their produce is coming from.

“At the farmers market, you’re going to get to know that farmer,” she said, adding and in some cases you can even get to know the actual farm.

But, there are also downsides to depending on produce from local markets — chiefly seasonality and somewhat variety.

Most regional markets (except Bainbridge) are only in season during the summer months. And during that time certain products are only available at certain times. So, it’s difficult to sit down and plan a menu before heading out to shop at the farmers market, Atchison said.

“It’s almost like you need to go to the market and see what’s there and then plan your meals accordingly,” she added.

Of course, there’s more to the market than just produce.

While you’re there you can check out plant starts, artisan gifts, folk music and other entertainment, and, of course, community. WU

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