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An easy way to eat healthier this summer: Find a farmers’ market

June 23, 2016
  • By Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

About the Author

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Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Beverly Merz is Executive Editor of Harvard Women’s Health Watch, a publication she helped start in 1993. Before coming to Harvard she was an Associate Editor of JAMA, Managing Editor with the Union of Concerned Scientists, … See Full Bio
View all posts by Beverly Merz


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rob vangely
August 6, 2016

Great article, the natural and organic food industry is growing. People are beginning to understand that we have no idea what is really in our food.

Helen Sweeney
July 14, 2016

Great article and so true. Local is best. I am now accessing local produce from my communities backyard through a sharing platform call Spare Harvest. Website and app and it looks to be new but could be anywhere if there is excess to share. There are not fees to join and I get to meet the grower as a bonus.

Jenny Kastner
June 29, 2016

Our local farmer’s markets in and around Cambridge, MA, aren’t always cheap, but I view them as a treat – with their naturally-ripened, pungent tomatoes, sweet-smelling fruits, homemade cheeses, honey, breads, jams and flowers! A very special treat, which I look forward to every summer. I hope there are blessings raining down on all the dedicated people, including the farmers, who have persisted in making this happen. Particularly in poor communities!

June 27, 2016

I totally agree with your suggestion

June 27, 2016

While CSA’s can be a convenient source they can also be a costly mistake. I have tried different CSA’s over the years, you can’t pick and choose as you can at a farmers market. Granted, you receive what is freshest In CSA’s but I’ve had enough celeriac and kohlrabi to last a lifetime. Last year, I received 2 tomatoes during the entire CSA season, half share 800.00, ugh. I say, take the time to find a great local farmers market and pick what you want when you want!

Ashley See
June 27, 2016


I totally agree with your suggestion to consider whether one should be a farmers market customer or a CSA member because there is a strong difference–one you captured well.

A farmers market customer can pick and choose. Don’t like what the farmer has at market? Go to another market, or another market. Buy nothing and see what they have next week. As a CSA member, however, you then have to be willing to weather the season with your farmer and eat what they grow; sometimes their bumper crops are kohlrabi and celeriac (which aren’t easy to grow). Other times it’s tomatoes. Every season has an abundance of something, but the farmer never knows what it’s going to be. I’m sure your farmer wanted to give you more than two tomatoes more than anything. Tomatoes are hard to grow.

As a farmer, I can only convey to you how hard it is to grow food for a living. For all the reasons you may have heard before, it’s a damn hard job: little pay for tons of work. So many things about your season are out of your control. And at the end of the day, the farmer feels the heaviness of their failures far more than any complaints will ever touch. It stinks to have a crop fail. It’s so much work flushed down the drain.

Please remember that the whole point of CSA is investing in a farmer and their season. CSA memberships allow the farmer to get money at the beginning of the season, so they can afford to buy all the things necessary to grow food for the season. It’s a precious relationship built on trust. If you’re not willing to put that trust and belief into a grower then please consider shopping at farmers markets instead.

Jeff Baker
June 24, 2016

Great advice, Beverly! Readers can also consider participating in a CSA (community supported agriculture) offered by many local farms. For a fixed one time fee individuals contract with the farm to receive a share of whatever veggies and fruit is harvested each week during a growing season. It is another wonderful way to get very fresh produce and feel connected to the source of one’s food.

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