Clean Eating

FARMERS’ MARKET GUIDE

Farmers’ markets across the country are open, bursting with the season’s best produce and fresh local o erings, and ready to welcome shoppers back. Here’s our comprehens­ive guide to the top market in each state.

- BY PETER AGOSTINELL­I

Local farmers, producers and artisans are showcasing their best of the season. Here are the top picks in every state.

As winter gave way to spring and the summer growing season followed, people began reawakenin­g to the prospects of what a post-pandemic world might look like. While we’re not out of the woods yet, in many states, distributi­on of vaccines and effective health protocols are helping us make a return to some kind of regular routine that is more in sight every day.

The seasonal return of local farmers’ markets this year is a welcome dose of normalcy in a marketplac­e hungry for seasonal, farm-fresh foods grown close to home. They’re also a healthy alternativ­e to traditiona­l grocery stores and a supplement to tiresome and repetitive home deliveries.

The sheer number of farmers’ markets has surged in recent years, from just under 2,000 in 1994 to more than 8,600 markets currently registered in the USDA Farmers Market Directory, as demand for such foods is driving the trend. Safety protocols – including mask requiremen­ts, online ordering portals and drive-through or curbside-pickup options – helped markets weather the 2020 storm. Many of these measures will still be in place this year.

Earlier this year, the United States Department of Agricultur­e (USDA) offered highlights in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (HR 1319). The US House of Representa­tives passed this plan in March.

The USDA said the legislatio­n responds to the pandemic’s disruption­s in the food supply chain. The response includes investment­s in infrastruc­ture and retooling support for farmers’ markets, food processors and producers.

This is good news for farmers, and the support could be timely. Earlier this year, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told a virtual convention of the National Farmers Union that department research showed US ranchers and farmers already faced financial challenges long before the pandemic began.

“It was amazing to me that 89.6% of America’s farmers, ranchers and producers do not make a majority of their money from their farming operations,” he told the assembly.

One silver lining of sorts in the first year of the pandemic lockdown was the spotlight on home cooking and baking, fueled in part by social media activity plus consumers spending far more time at home in work-from-home arrangemen­ts. Another takeaway is the pandemic’s reminders of wellness, immunity and prevention.

Add those dynamics to the nutritiona­l and environmen­tal advantages of eating locally, and the old concept of a good local farmers’ market might be more relevant than ever. Supporting local producers helps boost the health of any community, while the shared experience of spending time again with farmers and fellow shoppers will be a welcome change of pace.

Clean Eating has curated an updated list of suggested farmers’ markets throughout the US. In addition to these standout spots, let your eyes and taste buds be your guide. The best new market may be the one you discover – either close to home or on your next road trip. And we want to know about it! Tag @cleaneatin­gmag and use hashtag #CEMarketFi­nd in a post of your market find or haul.

 ??  ?? This Nashville market is a veritable foodtopia for farmers, artisans, nonprofits and food lovers.
This Nashville market is a veritable foodtopia for farmers, artisans, nonprofits and food lovers.
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