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Explore nutrition tips, kids’ meal plans, kids’ activities, recipes and more from pediatric nutritionist, Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, CDE.

Variety Spices Up the Farmers’ Market

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Variety Spices Up the Farmers' Market

Farmers Markets are full of local, great quality, fresh produce and foods waiting for you!

Boasting hundreds of varieties of produce and amazing customer service, farmers’ markets connect people in their communities with locally grown produce. Farmers’ markets are gaining popularity. Since 2008, the number of farmers markets in the US has nearly doubled, from 4,685 to 8,144 in 2013, according to the USDA. It is likely they will grow in number as people discover the wonders of local markets and demand fresh produce.

Many people benefit from farmers’ markets

  • Local small farm operators and farmers who sell directly to customers at markets cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food. In turn, they can afford to stay on their farmland and ensure a supply of fresh produce to consumers.
  • Urban families have direct access to fresh, nutritious foods when they otherwise would not have easy access to such good quality produce in their local communities.
  • Consumers have access to locally grown, farm-fresh produce and opportunities to interact with the farmers who grow their food.

Market produce is grown on farms that are often less than 90 miles from the market. The fruits and vegetables are often picked the same day or the day before they are sold. They are so fresh you may see the morning dew glistening on the skins. You cannot get produce any fresher or available in such a wide variety than produce sold at the farmers’ markets.

Local markets have variety too!

Farmers selling at New York City Greenmarkets together grow 47 varieties of peas and beans, 120 varieties of apples, 170 varieties of tomatoes and 350 varieties of peppers. With fun names like “Green Curly” and “Red Oak”, one farmer at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan (NYC) sells over 20 varieties of leafy salad greens not commonly found in supermarkets. Chameh, avocado squash, kohlrabi, heirloom tomatoes, shishito peppers, ginger gold apples, and rainbow swiss chard are among the other produce items found at this market.

On the other side of the country, one grower at the farmers’ market in Spokane, Washington sells 26 varieties of potatoes. At San Francisco’s famous Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, as many as 1250 vendors sell over 1,200 varieties of fruits and vegetables throughout the year.

With such a wide variety of produce available, why not make it a family excursion and visit your local farmers’ market? Choose one fruit or vegetable your child or your family has never tasted before. Ask the farmers how it tastes and the best way to prepare it. Once you take a bite of the fresh fruit/vegetable, you and your family will be hooked! These produce are as fresh as it gets!


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About the Author

Picture of Erika Ichinose Pijai, MS, RD, CDN

Erika Ichinose Pijai, MS, RD, CDN

Erika is a registered dietitian with a master's of science degree in nutrition education from Columbia University. She is the program coordinator for the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program at Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC, where she trains and supervises both staff and volunteers to conduct paperless nutrition curriculum and cooking demonstrations featuring locally grown, fresh produce at farmers’ markets across New York City.

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