Fresh Finds at Your Farmers Market

Did you know that Washington state produces over 230 annual crops per year? We’re second only to California. Apples grown here are sold in all 50 states and more than 50 countries. From mint oil to wheat, potatoes to cherries, this state has a bountiful harvest. One of the best places to find all these goodies is at the local farmers market.

Farmers markets are good for you and your neighborhood. Of course, the items will be fresh and in season, but they are also local which means the “food miles” or distance traveled is less. Lower food miles are better on and for the environment. Since the produce is fresher, it’s likely to taste better and be richer in vitamins. Plus, the money you spend goes directly to family farmers, helping the local economy and creating community connections.

When visiting a farmers market, there are a few ways to make the most of the visit:

  • Carry credit cards and cash. Most farmer markets take credit cards, WIC or Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs. Bring some cash just in case or to save the farmer from having to pay the credit card transaction fees.
  • Bring big bags. Not all vendors will have bags and carrying multiple small bags can be cumbersome. Bring along those grocery store bags to make it easier for you and the vendors.
  • Go early or late. Arriving right at opening is a good way to ensure you find items you need before they sell out, like eggs. On the other hand, waiting until it’s close to closing means you may find bargains. Farmers often offer deals to try to sell off what remains. Of course, any time is always a good time for fresh finds.
  • Understand the seasons. Unlike large grocery chains, vendors will be limited in what is available based on the season. Researching what produce might be available by month is a good way to know what to expect. One Washington state resource can be found here.
  • Ask for advice. Vendors know the produce best. Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions if you want something new or are looking to add to a planned meal. Farmers are also great resources for asking how to prepare what you buy.
  • Invite everyone. Farmers markets are kid-friendly and a festive outing. Use the time to engage the family in menu planning, catch up with friends while shopping, or take a date for a casual outing .

Although Pike Place Market is the biggest and best-known farmers market in the Seattle area, there are seven Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets (both seasonal and year-round) and additional Washington State Farmers Market Association locations in King County. Get to know your nearby farmers, local flavor, and fresh finds for a tastier table today.

Download a pasta primavera recipe here to use with your local fresh market vegetables.

Sources: Washington Grown; Mississippi State University Extension; Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets; Washington State Farmers Market Association; USDA