Did you know that the second week of August marks National Farmers Market Week? With more than 8,600 farmers markets across the country, it’s easy to celebrate by supporting local farmers near you.
4 Reasons to Shop at Farmers Markets
- It’s healthy: Living closer to a farmers market is associated with having lower body mass index (BMI)
- It’s affordable: Farmers market shoppers in low-income neighborhoods report that markets are often less expensive than buying fresh produce at grocery stores
- It’s local: Shopping at farmers market supports local vendors and jobs – which in turn returns more than three times as much of their sales to the local economy compared to national/chain businesses.
- It’s fun: When you shop at a farmers market, you have an average of 15 to 20 social interactions, compared to just one or two when shopping at a grocery store
Farmers Markets Across the Nation
The number of farmers markets may have grown in number, but that’s sometimes easier said than done. In Illinois, we talked with Chicago Farmers Market spokesperson about the trouble with starting farmers markets. “You need 10 farmers for one market,” Veronica Resa told us. “Sometimes, that’s very hard to find.” In fact, they often reach out to farmers across state lines to grow their markets.
The Atlanta Market in Georgia has the opposite problem – it’s been at 100 percent capacity with a years-long waiting list for farmers to become vendors there. “If a farmer gets in the market, they usually don’t leave,” says Jack Spruill of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. This sought-after farmers market opens 364 days a year (every day except Christmas) and spans 150 acres, making it one of the largest in the word.
On the other side of the country, Oregon farmers markets can be found just about everywhere – even hospitals. “The more health-care professionals can make the connection between healthy foods as a way to improve health, the more they will be able to promote it to their patients from an authentic place,” says Eecole Copen, a farmers market manager for Oregon Health & Science University.
SEE ALSO: 5 Ways to Use Summer Squash & Zucchini
Back in the South, a focus has been placed on giving low-income consumers who use EBT cards through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) better access to Tennessee farmers markets. The program encourages healthy eating by supplying farmers market managers with EBT machines and training, as well as a grant for EBT cards to double in value when used at a farmers market.
And this isn’t just for city folks. Farmers markets are helping to revitalize rural downtowns in places like Kearney, Nebraska. Vendor Christie Urwiller says making the connection with farmers market shoppers means a lot to her. “When we’re not there, customers really miss us,” she says. “Seeing repeat customers is what I like the most. It’s exciting knowing they’re looking forward to seeing you come back and buying your produce.”
Farmers Market Recipes
Once you’ve found a farmers market near you, come back for a few of our favorite farmers market recipes:
- Eggplant, Mozzarella & Pesto Gratins
- Cucumber, Melon & Mint Sangria
- Squash Croquettes
- Oven-Fried Okra
- Mason Jar Salad
- Fresh Ricotta Tomato Salad
- Fresh Corn in Roasted Chicken Drippings
- Blueberry Sugar Cookie Crisp
- Kale Chips
- Peach Blackberry Shortcakes
And leave us a comment letting us know your favorite experience at a farmers market. Happy National Farmers Market Week from Farm Flavor!