Author: Rebecca Davis, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Maryland Extension
Cities and towns, parking lots and country lanes; it seems as if farmers’ markets are springing up on every corner in America. That is not just good news for farmers; it’s good news for you too! Farmers’ markets provide easier access to fresh, nutritious foods that are often locally grown, particularly fruits and vegetables.
In addition, farmers’ markets that offer locally grown foods provide a venue for local farmers to sell their products. Depending on how the food is grown and transported, it may also be a way to reduce the carbon footprint.
What you will find at your local farmers’ market will vary by a state’s geography and climate, but virtually every state has seen an increase in popularity of farmers’ markets and the wide variety of produce available at these markets.
Farmers’ markets are a great place to buy bulk produce for home food preservation. When produce is fresh and plentiful, buy a little extra to freeze or can. If strawberries or blueberries are in season, you may want to buy extra and freeze some as well as eating some fresh. If your family likes green beans, you may want to buy and can some beans for later. When peas are in season, buy extra to freeze for the winter months. Contact your local extension office for guidelines as to how to safely can or freeze. Home preserved foods will allow your family to enjoy fruits and vegetables during the off-season.
Most fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help maintain a healthy weight and may help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables from your local farmers’ markets: good for you, good for farmers, good for communities, and good for the environment.