Farmer’s markets are the ‘new kid on the block’ in minds of college students

Every Thursday afternoon until Halloween Marist students are given the opportunity to become educated consumers of local produce on campus. The role that food plays in our daily lives is immense, which is why students should become educated about healthy eating habits.

The mid-Hudson River Valley is littered with farmer’s markets such as Meadowbrook Farm and Wilklow Orchards. The annual farmer’s market at Marist has been running on a weekly basis since August 29. However, a majority of students scurry past the vendors without paying any mind. “I feel bad walking past and not buying anything,” said senior Doug Ainscow.

Joe Baldwin, owner of Earth to Table, has a knack for overcoming this trend by attracting students who are willing to lend him their ear. Baldwin has committed his life to farming and spreading knowledge about agriculture. “I wish I could shut the country down for one day to teach about agriculture,” he said. Baldwin’s passion for food education embodies the culture of farmer’s markets.

Buying vegetables in season at farmer's markets will ensure freshness. Photo by www.porterfarmsandnursery.com

Buying vegetables in season at farmer’s markets will ensure freshness. Photo by http://www.porterfarmsandnursery.com

Baldwin’s Earth to Table stand at Marist is a microcosm representative of the benefits of buying from local farmer’s markets; and it is a symbol of his mission: “To provide fresh, wholesome produce, better lifestyle education, planting of community gardens, Stevia education, weight loss through correct eating and teaching what people should grow, eat and cook for healthier living.”

The college-aged audience is not ideal for promoting local farmer’s markets and healthy dieting, but it can appeal to everyone. Being that we are college students, it is likely that our billfold is thin. The majority of produce sold at farmer’s markets cost less than they would in a conventional grocery store, according to the Neighborhood Farmer’s Market Alliance.

Not to mention that the quality and variety of produce at farmer’s markets trumps that of grocery stores. This is a fact that not many college students are aware of. “I’m so cheap. I should buy from them, but I am more intrigued than anything,” said senior Ken Walshak.

The conflicting nature of information regarding food and diet related topics confuse and frighten a majority of our society. Walking around a farmer’s market is a relatively strange experience since we are exposed to a commercially dominated food industry. The simplicity of “eating real”, which is the slogan of the Food Day movement, diminishes the conflicting arguments about dieting. Eating produce in favor of processed foods will lead to better health. Earth to Table’s mission statement embodies this claim.

Although Marist’s Farmer’s Market will be shutting down on October 31, students don’t have to venture far in search of local produce. Meadowbrook Farm and Wilklow Orchards are both within 12 miles of campus. According to employee Trisha Greco, Meadowbrook grows an overwhelming amount of squash. The varieties include: yellow, winter, acorn, spaghetti, delcota and butternut. She added that students should buy from farmer’s markets rather than supermarkets because produce is always fresh and grown on the property. Marilyn Zaiman, an employee of Wilklow Orchards, said that popular produce choices during this time are apples, tomatoes and pumpkins. Wilklow picks these items right off of the tree, said Zaiman.

Apples are a staple of in season produce for the fall. Photo by Kyle Hannafin

Apples are a staple of in season produce for the fall. Photo by Kyle Hannafin

Meadowbrook Farm is opened seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. year round. Wilklow Orchards maintains a roadside stand from Labor Day through Halloween. Wilklow also has “Green Markets” running at Vassar College from June through October with a year round stand also operating in Manhattan.

Join in and celebrate Marist’s own Food Day celebration on October 24th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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