Why Farmers Markets Are Your Safest Bet for Food Shopping During Covid-19 Pandemic
Without an approved vaccine or treatment for Covid-19, it’s unlikely for things to go back to normal, including food shopping.
Supermarkets are popular for being convenient, reliable, and most often cheap. However, the supermarkets that you knew last year aren’t the same anymore. Sales personnel are now covered in protective gear. The aisles are marked to encourage social distancing. No free samples are being given away anymore. You might bump into an old friend but you just exchange pleasantries while staying at least 1 meter away from each other. But despite these guidelines, supermarkets still have to wrestle with an increasingly stronger competitor, the farmers markets.
**Farmers Markets VS Supermarkets**
When we talk about farmers markets, what we usually envision is a peaceful Sunday surrounded by stalls that are filled with fresh produce. People drop by to smell, taste, and shop for fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, herbs, baked goods, wine, and almost anything that can be prepared in the kitchen. Due to its laid back atmosphere, farmers markets are more often used to socialize. To put it in simple terms, one of the major selling points of [farmers markets is the sense of tradition and community. ](https://www.organicfoodmarkets.com.au/festivals.php)
If you want to stock your pantry with food that’s going to last for 6 months, you will go to the supermarket. But if you want a different kind of experience, you will go to a farmer’s market.
**Why Are Farmers Markets Safer Shopping Destinations During Pandemic?**
Some Australian states have allowed farmers markets to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic, classifying these as “essential service”.
The [Covid-19 restrictions have changed the atmosphere of farmers markets](https://farmersmarkets.org.au/corona-covid-19-fact-sheet/). Their number of shoppers are now limited and customers are no longer allowed to touch any product before buying it. Social distancing must be observed around the market and sellers are no longer allowed to give away samples or flyers to mitigate transmission.
Health experts point out that the new restrictions have made farmers markets safer for food shopping during the pandemic.
One reason is that farmers markets are set outdoors, which means fresh air is always moving. The transmission of virus can be hindered by the wind and sunlight. Furthermore, it is unlikely that people will funnel to these types of markets because the supply chair is shorter.
Luke Wood, a health food expert from [Monkey Foodz](https://monkeyfoodz.com.au/) says, “Farmers markets may be safer than large supermarkets or grocery stores because they are outside, which means, there’s fresh air moving and the supply chain is shorter.”
In farmers markets, food products are usually given directly to the customer from the grower or producer. This means, fewer people handled the food. Less handling means less risk of transmission.
Buying from these markets also help support local farmers and keep many families afloat in these times of serious economic slump. In fact, agriculture accounts to[ 2.2% of value added (GDP) and 2.6% of employment in the country from 2018– 2019.](https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/publications/insights/snapshot-of-australian-agriculture-2020#australia-is-a-competitive-producer-because-of-productivity-growth)
Here’s how to support local farmers while shopping in the fresh air:
Always Sanitize Your Hands
Wash your hands or rub some sanitizer before going to a farmer’s market. Sanitize each time you touch a product or a surface. And fight the urge to touch your face.
Distance Yourself from Other Shoppers
Farmers markets have the same restrictions as big supermarkets. If there are still people around your favorite stall, wait for them to finish before moving forward. As much as possible, keep a 1-meter distance from each other. Never hug or shake the hand of another person (no matter how close you are!).
Protect Yourself from the Virus
Whether you’re shopping in an enclosed space or al fresco, you must always wear a mask. If you notice that a lot of people are not wearing masks, it is advised to shop elsewhere. Observe if the sellers are also wearing gloves.
Make it Fast
List down what you need before heading to the market. Avoid lingering in the area to help control the density of shoppers.
Bring a Reusable Bag
This lessens risk of transmission and reduces plastic waste. After shopping, throw the bag in the washer or hang it under the sun for a few hours.
Wipe the Packaging and Wash Your Items
Wipe or wash the packaging before opening it. If you got the product directly from the basket, make sure to wash it thoroughly before putting it in your fridge.
Watch Out for Safety Protocols
Observe the cleanliness and traffic of the farmer’s market. Good ventilation, light traffic, and routine cleaning are signs that the organizers are serious about keeping the community safe.
Farmers markets have drastically evolved in the past months. They have become more a service than an event. However, you can still expect the same quality and warmth from the sellers. And to top that, you help local producers in these difficult times.