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Let's go shopping
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Most women love to hear that phrase. I, on the other hand cringe inwardly. I really do dislike shopping. I am also the remote control freak at our house too. So, I guess I am not your typical female. Although, I must say, I have never met a “typical” female. I have always found us ladies to be a unique creation. Can I get an a-men here? Oh well, I digress, let’s get back to the chore at hand, shopping.

As a child, my dad had a rule when it came to shopping. First, we always went to Camden. Second, if you could not buy it from Belk, Burn’s Hardware, Sheorn Jewelry or Campbell’s Grocery, then you probably did not need it. I realize all of those stores, except Belk, are  no longer in existence. They are but a fond memory from my past. His insistence on going to Camden would drive me crazy. I wanted to go to Columbia. Yet, the older I become, I realize I am a lot like him. I tend to always gravitate toward Camden. Yes, we occasionally go down Two Notch, but I am happier staying right here in Kershaw County.

There is one particular kind or type of shopping I really do love. I LOVE to shop at a local farmers market. Yes, we are a vendor at them, but I am also a consumer. I enjoy walking around and seeing what each vendor has to offer for sale. We even seek out farmer’s markets when we travel. We always make a point to visit them and purchase from the farmer. We like to talk with the producer and ask questions about the products they are selling. We want know about their farm. We are also interested in the regulations they have to follow to sell their products. I guess we are weird in that sense, but we find it interesting how each state sets rules the local farmer must follow to direct market some of their products. The rules always vary. Some states are more “farmer” friendly than others. By the way, South Carolina is not one of them.

I could go on and on about why we shop farmers markets. I am a farmer, so I understand the importance of supporting local farmers. However, I wanted to know why others shop at the farmers market. I decided to do some informal research. I posted on our Facebook page the following question: “Why do you shop at a local farmers market?”  This question generated a lot of varied responses. I wanted to share some with you. By the way,  these are all “real” people giving their honest responses. They are not actors compensated for their participation in this survey. The only compensation they receive is our appreciation.

Holly -- I like seeing my friends and neighbors. I like for my kids to know where food comes from. I know it is important to support local farmers. Finally, the produce and products are just so good!

Lizzie -- Better health! Also my husband has some health issues and the freshest I can get is better for him. So in return it keeps out medical bills down.

Shawn -- Not in order of importance. In order of what came to mind... 1. I love the atmosphere and people. 2. I like putting a face with the people who produce my food. 3. I like the quality/taste of the food I purchase at the market. 4. I like  that everything is local.  5. I like knowing how my food is produced (organically, sustainably, humanely, responsibly). 6. I like seeing the vendors every week. 7. I like to support people that take pride in what they do. 8. I like that I no longer shop by looking at what’s on sale and if I’m getting a “good deal.” I shop based on what I need and what’s available. Because I know I’m getting quality food, price is not a factor -- not that the budget is unlimited, but I know that a higher price paid to farmer is a better deal nutritionally than falling prices elsewhere.

Benjamin -- Supporting local farmers and having a connection with them (e.g. legitimately feeling sad when Wil-Moore lost the barns/chickens), buying fresher, feeling more connected to what I eat.

Michele -- I like seeing the face of the local farmer who has made the choice to raise food (produce/meat) is a conscious, humane and hopefully pesticide and hormone-free way. I find the food is fresher and simply tastes better. I think it is important to support our local food industry and not freely give our money to the big corporations. I like that my kids think it’s a treat to go to the Farmers Market. Plus they are receiving an education in that they know that a carrot just plucked from the ground in the morning is going to have dirt on it and not be as “nice looking” as some supermarkets would have you believe. I believe that when children see beautiful produce at a Farmers Market they will be inspired and excited about having their own garden thus giving them another way to support themselves later in life.

Devon -- Food without drugs; animals who live quality lives; meat-milk-eggs that have FLAVOR; sellers you can TALK to; buyers who KNOW where their money’s going; REFUSING the corporate machine; stimulating LOCAL economy; HEALING for the planet.

As you can see the reasons are many, but all agree it is what is best for them, their family and the community.  We believe these customers, or as  we like to call them our friends, certainly can explain their desire and passion for more convincingly than we ever could.

If you already shop at a local market. We say THANK YOU for your support, not only to us, but to the many other vendors there also. If you have never checked out a market, we would love to encourage you to do so. There are a variety of ones around. You can find a complete list at http://agriculture.sc.gov/ and at www.localharvest.org. However, the two you can find us at are the Kershaw County Farmers Market every Saturday from now until Dec. 11 from 8 a.m. until noon. We are also at the All Local, located at 711 Whaley St., every Saturday year around from 8 a.m. until noon. Activities and vendors may vary weekly. You can become a fan of both markets on Facebook or sign up to receive the weekly e-mail updates.

So, come on -- let’s go shopping!