If you’re the sort that plans ahead when you make your regular trek to the farmers’ market, here’s something to add to this week’s list – August 2-8 is the 16th annual Farmers Market Celebration (http://www.agriview.com/news/business/celebrate-national-farmers-market-week/article_071c18c9-d25d-5bc1-9570-b547f6d234b3.html
For farmers market regulars the celebration features a lively web-based contest to identify “the cream of the crop, the best of America’s farmers markets.” Before you restock the larder, take time to cast your vote for your favorite market at http://markets.farmland.org/?_ga=1.57656936.354048519.1438709167
Though shoppers may have their own enthusiastic responses, the Farmers Market Coalition answers the “Why” of farmers markets with a great graphic that depicts the ways in which farmers markets stimulate local economics, preserve farmland and rural livelihoods, increase access to fresh food, and support healthy communities. (http://farmersmarketcoalition.org/programs/national-farmers-market-week/) Lots of data to support the economic and health benefits of growing, buying and eating local!
The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/women-infants-and-children-wic) is a key player in the Farmers Market Celebration. Through the agency’s WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program — affectionately known as FMNP (http://www.fns.usda.gov/fmnp/wic-farmers-market-nutrition-program-fmnp) WIC participants are able to access locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs that promote the well-being and health of families. Last year 1.6 million WIC participants received FMNP benefits which surpassed $14.1 million in total revenue for participating farmers and farmers markets. Participants in the FMNP also receive nutrition education including how to best select, store and prepare the fresh fruits and vegetables purchased with FMNP benefits.
Since it’s already mid-week you may have visited your nearby farmers market already – if so, fix yourself a bowl of fresh fruit and relax while you cast your vote for the farmer who grew and marketed the nutritious treat. If you’re a weekend shopper, wish your vendor a happy Farmers Market Week and be sure to get her name right so you can later cast an informed vote for your favorite local grower.