During the month of October Illinois Stewardship Alliance is encouraging people to turn out in mass to their local farmers markets for the first “Shop-tober at the Farmers Market”.
Like Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when the official holiday shopping season begins and a lot of retailers’ balance sheets from red to black, “Shop-tober at the Farmers Market” is an opportunity for people to push farmers’ balance sheets into the black for the year. It’s the end of the regular market season and the last chance for many farmers to bring in income until the next growing season.
“Farmers markets thrive in the summer but when fall hits, there are less and less shoppers at many of the markets yet there is still an abundance of local produce,” Lindsay Record, program director of Illinois Stewardship Alliance said. “We want to encourage people to go to the farmers market because it’s not over yet.”
“Shop-tober at the Farmers Market” is a time for people get some of the last of the bounty of the land for the season, and show their support for the people that grow their food.
“October is a great month to shop and stock up on items for the winter. There are a lot of ways to preserve the harvest by canning, freezing or otherwise storing produce. It can be difficult to eat local year-round in central Illinois but by preserving local food, you can keep enjoying the harvest through the winter,” Record said.
A list of farmers’ markets throughout the state can be found at www.agr.state.il.us/markets/farmers/.
Illinois purchases $4.3 billion worth of food every year. Nearly $4 billion of that is spent on food raised out of state. If customers in central Illinois spent just 15 percent of their food budget on locally raised food, it would pump more than $600 million back into Illinois’ economy.
Shopping at the farmers market is just one way consumers can get fresh food raised locally, and help support their local communities and economies.