Everywhere you look, there are a countless number of conventional grocery stores. Each town has at least one Pathmark, Shoprite, or Stop & Shop, if not all three. Due to crazy schedules and constant running around, a lot of people tend to choose convenience over quality by doing a quick food shop at their local Shoprite. What most people don’t realize is the negative effect shopping at these places is having on not only their health, due to the quality of food, but also on the local community. So, I am here to provide you with some great reasons to drive that extra 10 minutes to shop your local farmers market.

First, and most importantly, is the food quality. The list of local farmers markets that I will provide you with later on, are all 100% organic. You might be asking, what exactly is organic and does it actually make a difference? Basically, certified organic food is food that has no toxic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, or unnecessary hormones or antibiotics. Instead, organic food is raised in ways that restore, maintain, and even enhance soil and ecosystem health. These facts alone are key reasons to go organic. Eating organic helps avoid filling your body with unnecessary, and extremely harmful, toxins that can lead to birth defects, learning disabilities, and obesity. Also, they contain a much higher nutritional value, providing your body with essential antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. There is also the fact that organic food simply tastes better! Studies have shown that organic produce has higher levels of flavor enhancing nutrients, with lower concentrations of water and sugars.

In addition, going organic will help not only your health but also the health of the animals that are producing our food. Most non-organic farmers run their farms with a business mindset, doing whatever they need to do in order to get the most profit. Most conventional livestock farmers push their animals to grow faster, get bigger, and produce more milk and eggs per day. In order to do this they are fed a combination of growth hormones, drugs, feed supplements, and high-grain diets. Sometimes all of these toxins can cause the animal to develop serious health problems, which are treated with antibiotics. On top of being filled with all of these unnatural supplements, livestock is usually kept in crowded, stressful, and unnatural conditions. These facts are not only good reasons to eat organic for your own health but also to support better treatment for these animals.

So, now that it’s clear why it is important to go organic, you’re probably wondering why does it matter if I buy organic from a conventional store as opposed to a farmers market? Well, here are three good reasons. First, when you buy local the fruits and vegetables come directly to you. Although a lot of conventional grocery stores now have “organic” sections, the produce is often shipped long distance. This can often lead to the produce sitting in storage for weeks and also gassing, in order to stimulate the ripening process. Second, you can ask questions. Like previously said, in grocery stores, even though it may say certified organic, that might not fully be the case. When you are dealing directly with the individual who farmed the food you are purchasing you can ask any questions you have to ensure it is the best quality. Lastly, it is a great sense of community and is good for your local economy. Our local farmers are usually families who have been in the business for years. It can be hard to compete with big name grocery stores, so when we buy directly from these farmers we are helping to support them and their families by helping them to stay in business.

Now that you know a bit about why it is so important, and beneficial, to shop your local farmers market, here is a list of some of the best local markets at the Jersey Shore.

  • The Arctic Butcher (Point Pleasant Beach) – A butcher with some of the best quality meats you can find. They have beef, pork, poultry, lamb, veal, and so much more. Their poultry is certified organic, with their birds living free-range and free of hormones and antibiotics. Also, all of their beef is 100% grass fed and grass finished. Another great thing about the Arctic Butcher is the fact that they also sell pre-seasoned meats.
  • Dean’s Natural Food Market (Ocean Township) – Dean’s is a market not only committed to selling the highest quality organic foods available, but they are also huge supporters for the local community. They follow a non-GMO policy, only selling food that is organic and certified by the Non-GMO Project.
  • Nature’s Corner (Spring Lake Heights) – Nature’s Corner chooses local whenever possible, getting their food from no more than 200 miles away. No matter what your diet type, they have options for everyone. They sell 100% organic, non-GMO, wheat and gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan, raw food, and paleo options.
  • Asbury Fresh (Asbury Park) – Asbury Fresh is a local artisan and farmers market. With over 55 farmers and handmade artisan vendors participating each week, it has grown to become one of the largest local artisans and produce markets in New Jersey. It is open Thursday evenings from 5:30pm-9pm and Sunday afternoons from 11am-4pm.
  • Door-To-Door Organics – Door-To-Door Organics is an exciting alternative to regular food shopping. They work solely with local farmers and artisans and deliver your food right to your door. Perfect for anyone with extremely busy schedules, you simply go online and “Choose a Box”. Choose what you want, how much you want, and how often you get it. This is a great way to get high-quality food right at your doorstep, literally.

So, make sure you keep all of these facts in mind the next time you decide to go food shopping. Remember all of the things you are gaining by simply driving a few more minutes to your local farmers market. Help yourself, the animals, and your community.