Many obstacles prevent families from eating home-cooked, healthy foods, which are inextricably tied to accessibility, income disparity, education and class. Galveston’s Own Farmers Market contributes toward a different idea of the local foods movement, one cognizant of long-established social laws determining who has access to eating well, and in turn, who has access to a high quality of life and who does not.

Whole foods high in nutrition — vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs and minimally-processed foods — are good for our health. They feed our brain, muscles and complex biological systems. “Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression,” according to Harvard Medical School. Also, eating with others is one of the most basic instincts of human tradition, providing opportunities to exchange ideas, sympathize, unload and commune with others.

The farmers market supports these notions in our community dinners program. Frequent partners are Family Service Center of Galveston County, where we bring homemade dinners to Incredible Years parenting classes, and Galveston Housing Authority’s Gulf Breeze Apartments, where we host a monthly dinner.

With menus inspired by shopping the market and picking out seasonal ingredients that catch our eye, we arrive bearing foods made with love: salads with grapefruit vinaigrettes, hearty shepherd’s pies, stir fries with baby bok choy and spring’s first carrots, and chocolate-dipped satsumas for desert. And then we eat. Together. We talk with one another while we share a good meal.

The service center’s parenting classes are a perfect opportunity to discuss our WIC voucher program, wherein families using WIC can receive up to $30 in free produce at our markets. Gulf Breeze residents inspired our newest program, Bonus Bucks, that matches an additional $1 for every dollar food-stamp clients spend. We’ve made new friends, gained volunteers, and learned new recipes through these dinners. Everyone reaps the physical and mental benefits of consuming a highly nutritious meal, while we spend more time talking about how good everything tastes.

Galveston’s Own Farmers Market places emphasis on the potential of community that forms around the foods we eat. Founded in 2012, we’re a tax-exempt charitable nonprofit organization that connects Galveston County residents with their local food economy and works to improve their quality of life by fostering a greater sense of community through access to better health, education, and an active connection to sources of good food and the joy of eating.

We bring locally grown organic produce, prepared foods and edible farm products to residents of Galveston at our year-round Thursday and Sunday markets, teach free community cooking classes and host open community dinners, build gardens at schools while teaching children every step of their stewardship with our Young Gardeners Program, and through generous local and state funders, we provide matching funds to food-stamp and WIC recipients so they can buy more fresh produce as part of our food access programs.

For information about this work to support families, visit www.fsc-galveston.org.

Casey McAuliffe is CEO of Galveston’s Own Farmers Market and Family Service Center of Galveston County’s partner in promoting health and well-being among Galveston County families.

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(1) comment

Bailey Jones

Fresh produce, humanely raised meats, artisan bread, coffee, teas, etc., plus friendly knowledgeable people, GOFM is a real gem. Bring your own bag - they don't do plastic there - and you'll want to bring home everything.

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