Today marks the start of National Farmers Market Week! This is the 15th Annual National Farmers Market Week to recognize and appreciate the role these markets play in agriculture and our economy. Farmers markets have been growing in popularity over the past several years as consumers’ interest and appetite for local and sustainable foods expands. Markets have been popping up all around the country from smaller towns to large markets in big cities. Most markets now have local farmers and local small businesses participating, which is great for their businesses I am sure. It is not often a shopper gets to speak directly with the grower to ask questions, get cooking advice, and recipes.
Even more promising, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services has worked with farmers markets nationally to outfit them to better handle payments from recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This has allowed SNAP recipients access to fresh produce as part of a healthy diet and helps drive up participation at the markets. Click here to learn more about using the ebt cards at farmers markets and to find a market near you that accepts SNAP benefits.
One of the many perks of visiting the farmers market weekly is observing the seasonality of produce. Right now (late summer that is) stone fruit is in full swing and they are incredibly sweet and delicious. The corn has been exceptional this year and perfect for a summer full of grilled dinners. Melons and blackberries are finally available at my market and tomatoes are reaching peak ripeness, perfect for making soups and sauces. Shopping at the farmers market challenges your culinary skills with new and beloved produce offerings alike. My favorite find so far this summer are peacotums, a plum/apricot/peach blend. They are perfect for snacking, baking into crumbles, or making homemade jams.
If you are looking for the nearest farmers market to you, check out the directory made available through the USDA, National Farmers Market Directory. Many markets this weekend will be holding events to celebrate National Farmers Market Week so be sure to stop by your local market and check it out.