Spring is just around the corner and in many areas Farmers’ Markets are opening for business. Shopping at your local Farmers’ Market is truly a green way of life. Not only will you be supporting family farmers and local growing but food from our farmers is always fresh and generally safer with many farmers choosing to use organic growing standards. A huge health benefit of farmers markets is that they have the potential to encourage consumers to change their diets and eat seasonally. And the taste of locally grown food, well, it stands above most everything you will find in your local grocery store!
Growth Increase in Farmers’ Markets. In 2011 the USDA reported a 17 percent growth increase in Farmers’ Markets around the USA. According to Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, “The remarkable growth in farmers’ markets is an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods. These outlets provide economic benefits for producers to grow their businesses and also to communities by providing increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods. In short, they are a critical ingredient in our nation’s food system.”
States with Most Farmers’ Markets. The states with the most farmers’ markets are California, New York, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Iowa, Wisconsin and North Carolina. Since 2010 Alaska and Texas ranked at the top since for most growth in farmers’ markets at 46 and 38 percent, respectively.
Affordability. A survey of Vermont farmers markets found that prices for produce were comparable with or cheaper than supermarket prices for most conventionally raised vegetables. For organic items, the farmers market prices were almost 40 percent lower!
Knowing where your food comes from is becoming more and more important in this day and age of chemicals, GMOs and irradiation of food. I encourage you to take some time to find out the location of your farmers’ markets and give them a visit this weekend. Below are some websites that can help you find your local farmers’ markets. Enjoy!
USDA Farmers’ Market search engine
Eat Well Guide – Connects you with local farmers, co-ops, farmers’ markets and stores