Looking for the juiciest watermelon or a crisp selection of veggies? You're probably not going to find it at your local supermarket. Most of these chain stores ship produce across the country. By the time it's put on the shelf it's not nearly as fresh as it could be. A farmers market is a great alternative. These markets feature local farmers who sell freshly picked produce and other artisanal goods, usually at prices lower than the supermarket.
Purchasing produce from a fresh-food market can be a healthier choice for your body, it's great for the environment and it supports the local community. Though many of these markets can be off the beaten path, a lot of major cities host farmers markets to make fresh food easily accessible. Check out a farmers market near you or try one of our top picks.
Photo credit: SLO Downtown Association
1. San Luis Obispo Market Immersed in a California college town, the Thursday night San Luis Obispo Market has been the city's signature event for more than 30 years. Residents young and old alike meander around the market, which spans five blocks downtown, while the smell of fresh barbecue wafts through the air. Throughout the market, local musicians provide the perfect background to more than 100 booths filled with brightly colored fruits, vegetables and flowers from the Central Coast of California.
2. West Side Market You get more than cheap produce at Cleveland's oldest publicly owned farmers market. The indoor/outdoor market is a cultural hub for the city, featuring more than 100 vendors and a ton of ethnic diversity. Dating back to 1840, the market served Cleveland's immigrant population and continues to offer unique products that can't be found at other farmers markets. Stop by the West Side Market for a wide range of fresh meats, cheeses, spices, produce and ethnic specialties.
Photo credit: Chris Cassidy Photography
3. Green City Market This isn't just any old farmers market. The Green City Market focuses on locally grown, sustainable food that educates and connects farmers to consumers, restaurant owners and chefs in Illinois. All vendors must go through an extensive application process detailing their farming or production processes before they are even allowed to take part in the popular Chicago market. Despite its high standards for vendors, fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t the sole focus of the year-round market. It's also an educational destination with a compost center, gardening workshops, cooking demonstrations and tasting events.
Photo Credit: Portland Farmers Market
4. Portland Farmers Market Although the Portland Farmers Market is relatively new — it's been in operation since 1992 — it's grown to span eight different locations in the Portland, Ore., area. One of the best locations is at Portland State University where more than 130 vendors offer fresh food. You'll find in-season produce, a variety of cheeses, seafood and baked goods. In the summer months, make sure you head to the PSU market for cooking demonstrations from the area's best chefs.
Photo credit: GrowNYC.org
5. Union Square Greenmarket Even in the concrete jungle of NYC, you can find farm-fresh produce and unique market offerings. On a Saturday at the Union Square Greenmarket you can expect to find more than 140 booths manned by area farmers, bakers, butchers and fishermen. In addition to seasonal produce, the market offers specialty items such as cheese, jams, wine and even freshly made maple syrup. Just don't expect to escape the hustle and bustle of New York. This vibrant farmers market attracts more than 60,000 visitors a day from top chefs to young children. Chat up the vendors and catch a cooking demonstration to make the most out of your visit.
Photo credit: CUESA.org
6. Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Located in the historic Ferry Plaza in San Francisco, this farmers market offers some of the Bay Area's freshest finds. At the charming locale, you can shop among dozens of vendors offering artisan products, fresh produce and just-off-the-hook seafood. Or you might simply enjoy a nice lunch overlooking the waterfront. If you don't want to drive your car to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, you have plenty of public transportation options. The market is easily accessible by bike, car, trolley, rail service and ferry.
Photo credit: EastonFarmersMarket.com
7. Easton Farmers' Market Although the Easton Farmers' Market is smaller than the others on the list, we couldn't leave out America's longest continuous running open-air farmers market. Established in 1752, the Pennsylvania market has provided a place for consumers to purchase fresh, local goods for more than two centuries. Don't be fooled by its modest size; this farmers market is packed with delicious products such as raw honey, wine, homemade fudge, pasture-raised, hormone-free meat as well as seasonal fruits and veggies. While you peruse all of your options enjoy the talent of local musicians as they add their own flare to the bi-weekly market.
8. Crescent City Farmers Market If you ever find yourself in The Big Easy, make sure you head on over to the Crescent City Farmers Market. In traditional New Orleans fashion, this market is full of flavor from the characters you'll meet to the live music and of course the garden-fresh food. You'll find your fair share of produce, but perhaps the biggest draw is the selection of seafood. While you're there, make sure you pick up some fresh shrimp, crawfish, alligator or crab.