National Farmers Market Week

August 8, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Want to stimulate local economies? Preserve farmland and rural livelihoods? How about increasing access to fresh food and supporting healthy communities? If you said yes to any of these things then you might want to visit a farmers market!

August 7th to 13th is National Farmers Market Week. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared this week as the 17th annual National Farmers Market Week. The United States Department of Agriculture sponsors National Farmers Market Week as a way to showcase the important role farmers markets play in our food system.

Farmers 1

Local farmers provide fresh, healthy and environmentally friendly local food to a growing segment of the population. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, “farmers markets create opportunities for small businesses to stimulate local and regional economies. Farmers markets are more than just a venue for fresh food and a friendly atmosphere; the revenue they generate helps your community prosper.”

 Photo: Logan Square Farmers Market

Photo: Logan Square Farmers Market

Today over 5,000 farmers markets across the country also accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, with new locations accepting SNAP increasing at an average rate of 40% per year. This provides low and fixed income individuals a way to get fresh healthy food that they need. Many of these people live in what is termed “food deserts,” areas where people experience physical and economic barriers to accessing healthy foods otherwise.

 Beverly Farmers Market Photo: City of Chicago

Beverly Farmers Market Photo: City of Chicago

There are over 8500 farmers markets across the country and according to the USDA, “The local food sector represents more than $12 billion dollars per year in sales.” The 2015 Farmers Market Managers Survey showed that customer demand at farmers markets remains robust with a majority of market managers reporting an increase in customer traffic and sales. Most market managers expect to expand their farmers markets in the near future to meet demand.

There is a farmers market close by no matter which part of the Chicago Area you reside in so go out an pick up something local and healthy today!