BESSEMER, Ala. (WBRC) - Food that’s healthy, fresh and grown locally. That’s the goal of the Bessemer Local Food Education Network (BLFEN).
The nonprofit works to educate the community about nutrition and healthy food.
BLFEN also educates farmers about better ways of growing. Many of those plants and vegetables are sold at farmers markets twice a week in Bessemer.
“Both of those farmers markets are certified in the state of Alabama by the state’s Farmers Market Authority," explained Joe Openshaw, the Chairperson for BLFEN. "That means you can be assured if you purchase food from those farmers markets, it is grown here in the state of Alabama, by the people selling the product to you.”
Openshaw says the farmers markets are important. One reason is because parts of the Bessemer area are considered food deserts - areas where there are not enough grocery stores nearby, limiting access to fresh food.
"We also have a large senior population and some are not able to travel long distances to grocery stores,” said Openshaw. “Having local food right here in middle of your city is important because fresh food is healthier for you.”
According to Openshaw, local food is also better for the environment, eliminating pollutants that come from shipping.
The next farmers market is on Saturday at Alex Bradford Park from 8 a.m. until noon. It’s being held every Saturday at least through the end of September. The same is true for the farmers market held each Tuesday at UAB Medical Center West.
Openshaw says the farmers markets are two of only a few in our area that participates in Double Up Food Bucks. That’s a program allowing people who use SNAP/EBT to double the amount they can spend on fresh produce.
BLFEN is also teaming up with other local groups for Bessemer Food Connection 2019 on Aug. 1 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Bessemer Recreation Center. Openshaw says the symposium will include sessions on nutritional trends and growing healthy food. If you are interested in attending, you can find more information on the EventBrite page or by calling Openshaw at 205-907-4099.