Monday, August 13, 2012

Number of Farmers' Markets (and Organic Farmers) Grows

As people search out better food, the number of farmers' markets continues to grow; there was close to a 10 percent spike this year. Remember, though, that local does not mean organic and that the majority of farmers at farmers' market are using pesticides.

But in a sign that our food system is taking a turn for the better—at least in some quarters—the number of organic farmers (certified and not) is growing almost as fast as the markets themselves.

I see it firsthand when shopping at New York City's farmers' markets. For example, on Wednesdays and Fridays, the days I usually shop at the Union Square market (the city's showcase), there are at least five organic/no spray fruit and vegetable farms present. Several years ago it was two or three. In addition, there are organic bread options, plus farmers selling grass-fed/pastured meats and dairy.

Even the smaller satellite markets that I occasionally visit all seem to have one or two organic/no spray options.

Having so many choices allows me to spread my shopping, especially since not all
farmers grow the same crops and not all tomatoes look or taste the same.

On Friday, for example, I bought beefsteak tomatoes and an orange honeydew melon from Nevia No of Bodhitree Farm, cucumbers from Richard Giles of Lucky Dog Farm, strawberries and string beans from Franca Tantillo of Berried Treasures Farm, plums from the Queens County Farm Museum, yellow peppers from Norwich Meadows Farm, organic whole wheat sourdough bread from Bread Alone and organic Finnish Ruis bread from Nordic Breads.

To find a farmers' market near you, click here to visit the USDA's National Farmers Market Directory.

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