FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2009
Tackling obesity in South Texas can be a little easier if we invest in farmers' markets.
Numerous studies show that farmers' market produce is picked at the peak of flavor, maintains its nutritional content and saves on fossil fuels because it is locally grown and thus not transported far.
The benefits of a farmer's market to a community are innumerable. Advocates of these operations believe that they help farmers stay in business as well as preserve natural resources. And consumers gain more purchasing options beyond the grocery store.
In this area, where we are fortunate to have a wealth of locally grown produce, I strongly urge our South Texas communities to collaborate on developing their own farmers' markets as Brownsville wisely has.
The Brownsville Farmer's Market, which opened last year in November after the flooding from Hurricane Dolly subsided, re-opened for this season in October. It is not only one of the state's 63 Texas certified markets, but it demonstrates remarkable community collaboration that garnered a $45,881 federal grant as part of the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
At these markets, a parent can encourage a youngster to snack on a piece of fruit versus a candy bar. It is a wonderful opportunity to encourage and practice better nutrition habits and explore nature's healthy wonders.
In light of a recent report showing that less than nine percent of teens in Texas consume the daily recommended amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, we should welcome additional sources of these products.
Numerous studies indicate that when provided with whole and nutritious food products, children enjoy them and overweight and obesity rates decline.
Brownsville City Commissioner Dr. Rose Gowen explains that the goal of the Farmers' Market is to eventually establish community gardens to engage children, the elderly and people of all ages to begin vegetable gardens and form co-ops.
"We are just beginning to design a system of community gardens where people can rent plots to grow produce and sell at the Brownsville Farmers' Market, as they do in many other cities," said Commissioner Gowen.
In Portland, Oregon, the collective impact of farmers' markets on the region's economy is estimated to be over $17.1 million for 2007. Farmers' markets and their vendors capture and recycle virtually every customer dollar, multiplying those dollars at home.
Community gardens improve self-esteem and reduce rates of anxiety and depression, besides allowing experienced gardeners to teach children how to grow higher quality produce.
These markets complement legislation I have authored that expanded access to nutritional foods in schools, increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and improved the coordination of obesity-related efforts throughout the state.
I highly commend the many sponsors of the Brownsville Farmers' Market that include the city, Brownsville Herald, UT School of Public Health, Texas State Health Services, our legal and medical communities, and local growers and businesses.
Again, I challenge our South Texas communities to invest a little time and a few resources toward creating their own farmers' markets. And I encourage the Brownsville community to continue researching potential empty lots where we can develop community gardens.
As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact Doris Sanchez, my Communications Director, 512-463-0385.