Did you spend your weekend basking in the official spring sun? I did. And so did a slew of others who took advantage of the amazing West Coast weather and filled a couple of downtown Portland, Ore. blocks for the much awaited opening of Portland Farmers Market 2010.
I’m lucky enough to live in a city that has a top-ranked farmers market. Good markets don’t have to be big and flashy; they just need to give you access to local farmers from whom you can buy directly. It’s no surprise that in an era where highly-processed foods and drinks doused with high fructose corn syrup reign, people who want healthier, more sustainable options are turning to local markets, and there are plenty of them to go around; even the White House has one.
We’ve rounded up some of the country’s most popular farmers market to get you excited for the market shopping season.
A top-notch market in a city that appreciates the value of local, organic food. We took a video tour of the market and interviewed market Executive Director Ann Forsthoefel about just what makes the Portland market special.
Held in the iconic Ferry Building, Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is one of San Francisco’s most well-known markets. They recently brought back the Thursday market, offering market goers three days during the week when they can stock up on sustainable produce and artisan goods.
The Union Square Greenmarket is the flagship market of New York City’s Greenmarket network which boasts over 50 markets all around the city. Union Square Greenmarket is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays all year round and features over 140 producers.
You can peruse the list of other NYC farmers markets here.
The countdown has begun for the Boulder County Farmers Market, which officially reopens for the season on April 3. Open all the way through November, Boulder has longest farmers market season in Colorado.
Rated as one of the Top 10 Farmers Markets in the US last year by the Huffington Post, the Wane County Farmers Market is a year round market, but starting April 21st they’re bringing it back outdoors for the spring and summer months.
Texas farmers have been hit with incredibly difficult weather this year, but that isn’t stopping the Austin Farmers Market from offering up an excellent selection. Hardier root crops have survived, and strawberry plants are set to be ready soon, plus there are several markets around town and throughout the rest of Texas; a trip to the Lonestar state certainly shouldn’t go without a quick jaunt to check out the local produce.
After a hard northeastern winter, there’s nothing quite like making a spring trip to farmers market. Fortunately for Bostonites, they don’t have to wait much longer; the central Copley Square Farmers Market opens for the season on May 18.
The Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets also manages the key farmers market in Boston and also works to help communities around the state launch their own farmers markets, and is a great resource for finding other markets in the city and elsewhere.
Of course in Seattle there’s the symbolic Pike Place Market that’s open year round and features a variety of food including organic produce and the well-known fish market, but there’s also a laundry list of local farmers market scattered around the Pacific Northwest metropolis. The University District market has been going strong since 1993 and is open all year round, hosting over 60 vendors and farmers.
Find a farmers market near you
Just because you don’t live near a big metropolis doesn’t mean you’re missing out on locally grown bounty. At Local Harvest you can search the extensive list of farmers markets, CSAs and even restaurants serving organic goods in your area.
What produce you can buy will depend on where you are regionally, but for the most part, root vegetables are still abundant, and some greenery, like chard, kale and spinach, is readily available. Although eating seasonally might limit your options slightly, you eliminate the environmental impact of shipping out of season fruits and vegetables from other regions, and more than often, from abroad.
Curious as to what’s in season where you are? You can search produce by state and season on Sustainable Table.
Effective and efficient farmers market shopping
With the popularity of farmers market on the rise, markets around the country are expanding and bringing in more vendors. That means more to look at, more to taste and more to buy; in other words, a sensory overload. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all that a farmers market presents, and are more often swayed by fresh croissants than beets, check out our guide, The Farmer’s Market Food Pyramid + 7 Tips for Shopping Success. You’ll find yourself with a more sustainable, healthier dinner table, and your body and conscious will thank you.
Photo Credits: Anna Brones