Benefits of your local farmers market

Farmers markets offer local meat and cheese, as well as eggs, fruits and veggies.

Spring and summer are my favorite seasons for many reasons, among them warmer weather, cookouts, baseball games, outdoor fun and vacations. But I also enjoy this time of year because that’s when many local farmers markets open for business.

I visit several different farmers markets throughout the spring and summer, depending on what part of town I am in and what I want to pick up. I know which farmers markets offer local meat and cheese, as well as eggs, fruits and veggies. Unlike shopping at the grocery, I don’t carry a list when I visit the farmers markets. Instead, I like to see what’s fresh and in season as I begin to plan meals for the week. I know that the fruits and vegetables I purchase at my local farmers market will be fresh and delicious, perfect for lunches and dinners for the coming week.

According to the Farmers Market Coalition, the National Directory of Farmers Markets listed more than 8,000 in 2013. That’s a lot of opportunity to help stimulate the local economy and support your local community. Farmers markets also bring fresh food directly to neighborhoods, especially those that lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables in nearby stores. Typical items found at farmers markets include locally grown fruits and vegetables, organic meat and cheese, as well as items you might not expect, such as breads and other baked goods, jam, honey, dog treats and fresh flowers.

Fun fact: Kentucky is one of 10 states in the country with the most farmers markets.

These are my favorite things to pick up at local farmers markets:

  • Eggs — Farm-fresh eggs have a different taste and consistency than store- bought eggs. Plus, occasionally you might find different types of eggs to try, such as duck and quail (yes, we’ve tried both), which can open up your palate to a whole new range of flavors.
  • Fruits and vegetables — They taste great not only because they are fresh and straight from the farm, but also because they are in season (or they wouldn’t be able to be grown locally).
  • Fresh flowers — Although they’re not something I can eat, they’re still a great find. Most of the time the flowers are bigger and more beautiful for decorating a table than those at your local supermarket.

Look for local farmers markets near you to purchase in-season produce to help you fix healthy meals that your family will love.

Kentucky farmers markets:

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