Fabulous, Fun Farmers’ Markets!

Have you visited a Farmers’ Market lately? You might just be surprised to find not only food, but educational opportunities, local entertainment, craft beers, local wines, artisan goods and much more!

Farmers’ Markets provide a wonderful way to educate your family while having fun. In the five past years, the number of Farmers’ Markets has dramatically grown to meet the demand for farm to table food and to support local economies and a healthier environment.

Spring and summer witness the blooming of markets across most of the country with the exquisite colors of fruit, flowers, and vegetables you may never see at chain grocery stores. For example, huge Gold Medal tomatoes that are very juicy, purple Cherokee tomatoes that are the color of plums with a smoky flavor, and colorful Red Brandywine tomatoes that taste like tomatoes from your childhood memories stimulate your flavor palate and your table’s color palette.

Narragansett turkeys, the oldest recognized breed by the American Poultry Association, are considered to be “tastier” by many. Would you like to make a pie with Seminole pumpkin to go with your Narragansett turkey this Thanksgiving? Seminole pumpkin is sweeter and has a finer texture than the standard pumpkin we usually purchase. Used to make pumpkin fry bread for tribal ceremonies held by the Seminole people in Florida, they grow it on vines hanging from trees, making it easy to pick.

There is so much you can learn about this gourd and other heritage varieties from the sellers. Shop while hungry at Farmers’ Markets and taste samples of fruit, vegetables and meats that are new to your family. Chat with the vendors and learn about the history of uncommon foods and ways to incorporate these products into your meals.

Many Farmers’ Markets sponsor cooking demonstrations and classes. Garden boot camps, urban gardening, and skincare classes are other examples of educational events held at markets. Would you like to know more about eating organic food, what the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet are, or how to support your local economy by buying local products? Check with nearby Farmers’ Markets and find out what they offer.

Each market is unique with its own rules. Some have totally green food; some have only certified organic items; some feature artisan products, from bread to chocolate to crafts; and some even support programs for low income families to purchase high quality food for low prices. Local entertainment and non-profit organizations are promoted by many markets at special events to further support their local communities.

Not all Farmers’ Markets are held outdoors. Indoor markets, sometimes called food halls, may have craft beer and wine bars. Vegetables and natural meats co- exist with coffee bars, sandwich vendors and handmade crafts. Freshly laid eggs, local honey, and organic cheeses are often available. With so many interesting choices, you may want to start shopping with a list and, then, stay open to new discoveries.

Get an overview of the entire market and go back to buy what appeals to you most. Taste, learn, buy and enjoy!

For more information:

www.nfmd.org (National Farmers Market Directory)

www.localharvest.org/farmers-market

www.Food.NationalGeographic.com

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