THE IPCC report Climate Change and Land, released a couple of weeks ago, found agriculture and food production are major drivers of climate change, accounting for somewhere between one-quarter and one third of global greenhouse missions. 

Two big recommendations to come out of the report are that we need to change our diets, and that the world needs to shift to more sustainable farming practices if we are to tackle climate change.

As consumers, it’s often hard to know what we can do at an individual level to make a difference, but changing the way we shop and eat is one very tangible way we can contribute to tackling climate change. When we buy food, we are endorsing the system that produced it. If we continue to buy food produced using unsustainable farming practices, we are supporting those practices to continue.

On a local level, one of the easiest and most effective ways of knowing you’re buying food that has been sustainably produced and to support the continuation of those practices is to shop at your local farmers market.

Reducing food miles has long been cited as a reason to shop at farmers markets. You know the food you’re buying and eating has only travelled a short distance, rather than been flown in from overseas, reducing the overall transport emissions. However, farmers markets go a step further than this – by supporting farmers who employ sustainable farming methods.

Small scale farmers who grow sustainably can face huge challenges in a climate dominated by large corporate farms, and often can’t compete with the massive volumes and low prices demanded by large retail outlets.Farmers markets give small scale, sustainable farmers who use environmentally sound farming practices a platform to make a living.

At the farmers market you can ask how your fruit and vegetables were grown, or your eggs were produced, and in some cases, even visit the farm and see for yourself. Visit a farmers market and you will find virtually all the farmers are either using low-impact or regenerative farming practices, are chemical and pesticide free, are certified organic, or a combination of these.

Importantly, farmers markets bring consumers and farmers together. As consumers learn more and become more interested in how their food is produced, the demand for sustainably produced food increases.  As a result, more and more farmers will adopt environmentally sound farming practices that improve, rather than degrade, the natural environment – one more positive step toward combatting climate change.