Thursday, May 22, 2008

Taste the Freshness--Buy Missouri

Farmers' MarketFarmers’ Markets across the State Offer Local Flavors

Long before consumers had the option of buying foods and products at local supermarkets, farmers’ markets of all sizes and locales were providing healthy, locally grown food to consumers. Missouri is now home to more than 140 farmers’ markets located in communities across the state providing a rich variety of homegrown fruits and vegetables as well as locally produced goods such as dairy, eggs and meats. Markets across Missouri offer consumers healthy, yet affordable, alternatives to the typical supermarket experience.

“Farmers’ markets in Missouri continue to thrive and provide fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the farm,” said Katie Smith, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA). “These markets not only offer consumers a fresh choice when it comes to food products, but they also offer many communities an economic advantage. Buying locally gown products is supporting our agriculture industry and communities.”

Farmers’ markets provide a unique experience allowing shoppers to meet the people who produce the goods they are purchasing, allowing the consumer to get the facts about how the food is produced. Consumers are likely to find everything from locally produced dog treats to homemade candles, jellies, freshly baked breads and bison jerky.

“Visitors to farmers’ markets can expect to find strawberries, asparagus, greens, spinach, lettuce, cabbage and onions throughout May. But come mid-June, our markets really get busy and most all of the produce and fruit will be ready for the picking,” said Lane McConnell, farmers’ market specialist with MDA. “Buying local products means experiencing local flavor and cuisine, and for a lot of consumers, that is what farmers’ markets are all about. Often what you find when purchasing supermarket products is that the majority of your dollars spent goes into shipping and production costs of produce. At your local farmers’ market, you are buying directly from the farmers; therefore, what you see is what you get.”

Whether you are seeking healthy, high-quality foods and products, looking to add a variety to your everyday cooking or looking for a fun shopping experience, Missouri farmers’ markets will have something for you this season.

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