Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture first began publishing a list of farmers' markets in 1994, we’ve seen a 17% increase in these markets nationwide. By their accounting, there are now over 7,000 farmers' markets scattered across the country. A dozen of the biggest and best farmers' markets were featured in The Daily Green website. (See the list at the end of this post.)
What’s behind the increase in these farm-direct markets? Experts believe that consumers are recognizing the benefits of buying local food:
- It is often fresher and tastier than produce grown and shipped thousands of miles from where it was grown.
- Local produce can be more nutritious. Small scale organic farming methods and freshness can make local produce more nutritious. Some produce can lose nutritional value during transport.
- Buying direct from the farmer can save the consumer money and increase profits for local farmers.
- Supporting local farmers helps grow the local economy and build a sense of community. Fans of these markets say it’s easy to “get hooked” on the farmer’s market experience which some compare to an old time “county fair” atmosphere.
In addition to farmers' markets, the website Local Harvest provides a searchable directory of thousands of sources of fresh local produce, including: Community Supported Agriculture, (CSA), farms, restaurants, grocery stores, and co-ops. Just enter your city or zip code and find one near you.
For more information and tips to get the most out of your next visit to a farmers' market, read Farmers' Markets: A Better Way to Eat Local and Healthy. If you have a favorite farmers' market or other source for local produce, share it with others on our Facebook page.
Best of the Best Farmers' Markets: (listed by region)
Portland Farmers' Market
Deering Oaks Park, Portland, Maine
Capital City Farmers' Market
Union Square Greenmarket
New York, N.Y.
Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market
Dane County Farmers' Market on the Square
Downtown Des Moines Farmers' Market
Des Moines, Iowa
St. Paul Downtown Farmers' Market
Saint Paul, Minn.
Barton Creek Farmers' Market
Santa Fe Farmers' Market
Santa Fe, N.M.
Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market
San Francisco, Calif.
Portland Farmers' Market at PSU
University District Farmers' Market
U.S. Department of Agriculture
The Daily Green