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Hartselle Enquirer

Local farmers grow flavor

By Erin Elledge Burleson 

Supermarkets give us the vegetables we need all year long; so, you might be wondering why anyone would go out of their way to shop at the farmers market during the summer. 

It is estimated most food in the United States travels, on average, 1,500 miles from farm to table. Most produce at our grocery store has been bred to travel long distances to get to us.  

Tomatolovers probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Tomatoes are the best example of this because there is no comparison between a store-bought tomato and a fresh local tomato, harvested ripe in season.  

Local farmers who sell to their community choose to plant varieties that have great flavors and have been loved by customers for many years. The tomatoes that fill our farmers markets in July are vine ripened and picked right before market day for optimum taste and freshness.  Tomatoes are in season from July through October.  

Grocery stores have tomatoes year-round, but the few varieties you’ll find there are usually chosen for extended shelf life and uniform appearance, rather than flavor. Grocers need tomatoes with tough skins that won’t bruise when they are harvested green, packed up and shipped off to the stores. Unlike vineripened local tomatoes, these traveling tomatoes will stay green until they arrive, and then they are artificially turned red by ethylene gas.  

This is the result of modern industrial agriculture. This method ensures tomatoes arrive looking fresh, but sadly they have lost flavor and nutrients along the way.  

Tomatoes are the superstars of the farmers market in July.  Our customers know seasonal produce is best, and they come to the market in the summer to support our local farmers and their sustainable farming practices.  

At our market you’ll find a plethora of tomato varieties, all with exceptional full-bodied flavors. 

Our small farmers markets will never replace the superstores, but they will bring our community together to celebrate seasonal goods whenever possible! 

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