One of my favorite longtime traditions is visiting the annual Downtown Farmers Market every weekend throughout the summer months. I start off the morning by picking up some pastries or a breakfast burrito with some iced coffee, then fill up my basket with various farm-grown fruits, veggies and assorted flowers. I end with an apple cider-flavored slurpee as I walk back to the TRAX station to get home. These are wonderful Saturday mornings, spent roaming the market at Pioneer Park with friends, listening to music and enjoying the summer sun.
Unfortunately, with the impact of COVID-19, farmers markets around the world have been affected. My favorite summer traditions have now become impossible to enjoy as they would surely aid in the spread of the virus.
Thankfully the Salt Lake City farmers market has been deemed an essential service, so they have been able to stay open and serving the community throughout this summer — but not without big changes to the protocol. Some shifts include basic changes you should be following everywhere you go — such as staying home if you feel sick, maintaining social distancing and wearing a face mask. However, there are some additional heart-breaking changes that have been made to the market this year, which are hard for the regulars like me, but are completely necessary for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Some of these protocols include no sampling of foods, no bringing pets, no prepared food for eating at the market or hanging out at the park, and no art and craft vendors, music or other forms of entertainment.
It’s a bummer. The summer memories of Saturday mornings at the farmers market will have to stay as just that for now — memories. However, there are some serious reasons why you should continue to support local farmers markets, even through this pandemic.
One of the biggest reasons is that farmers markets promote environmental sustainability. The food industry produces some of the worst pollution. Just think of the millions of cargo trucks that drive all around the country, depositing the products at your local grocery stores so you can purchase them. Local farmers markets cut that middle-man and pollution out. These farmers typically drive much shorter distances to get to the markets, creating less pollution, while also putting back more money into your community than a typical grocery store corporation might.
If you’re looking for a market to attend, you can find one at Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m., through October 24. If Saturdays don’t work for you, check out the Tuesday markets, from 4 p.m. until dusk, starting August 4th through September 29.
If you’re interested in finding a list of the arts and crafts vendors who are hurting from not being able to showcase at the market, check out the list from 2019 — www.slcfarmersmarket.org/artcraft. Please support these market artists if you can.
If you’re interested in learning more about what the farmers market is doing to protect its customers against COVID-19 or what types of products you can buy there, please check out their website — www.slcfarmersmarket.org. Next time you have to buy some groceries, I’d highly recommend ditching your local Smith’s or Walmart and heading for a farmers market. You won’t regret it.