During the summer months people emerge from their homes in search of fresh air and local organic foods—and what better way to get both than at your neighborhood farmers market? Not only will you reap the many rewards of walking around in the outdoors, but the market will provide local produce, fresh flowers, music, meat, and dairy products.
What will I find at a farmers market?
It depends. Farmers markets vary in size and always reflect a region’s agriculture and seasons. Some markets are seasonal and comprised of a small number of vendors, while others involve hundreds of vendors and take place year-round. It is a source of pride to farmers and market shoppers alike that the products available at farmers market represent the agricultural of a region or state.
While there are a great many benefits to the farmers market, possibly the biggest advantage is that you have the ability to speak directly to the producers. Is their produce free of GMOs? How are their animals raised and kept? What do they use for fertilizer?
Another reason to shop farmers markets is to support the local movement. Food writer Michael Pollan—best known for his works The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food—wrote an essay for The New York Review of Books saying, “Someone buying food may be acting not just as a consumer but also as a neighbor, a citizen, a parent, a cook. In many cities and towns, farmers’ markets have taken on (and not for the first time) the function of a lively new public square.”
Farmers markets are booming: in 1994 there were 1,755 nationally and by 2021 there are more than 8,600 according to the Farmers Market Coalition. So there may be one closer than you think. But how to find them? The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service website will provide you with current listings of all farmers markets across the US (search ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/). If you want to ensure you are at an organic farmers’ market, try organic.org. Word of mouth is also a great way to find exactly what you are looking for in your area!