Infographic: Farmers' Market Statistics

Spring Into Your Local Farmers' Markets
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With summer in full bloom, there's nothing quite like a bowl of berries fresh from the farm. Thankfully, with the number of farmers' markets increasing across the US, getting farm fresh produce is easier than ever.

Why Farmers’ Markets?

While the number of available farmers’ markets is on the rise, many consumers don’t know what the hype is all about. Here are some of the benefits that farmers’ market customers have reported:

  • Environmentally Friendly—With transportation being one of the top CO2 contributors, many people are consciously buying local to help reduce their carbon footprint. The farmers who participate in markets tend to be local, driving very short distances compared to the trucks that transport produce and other foods to grocery markets.

  • Shopping List Friendly—Often, consumers think that offerings at farmers’ markets are limited to a handful of summer fruits and vegetables. But these days, there is a whole lot more variety to the goods sold at farmers’ markets. Walking through the vendors, you’ll not only find the expected fruits and vegetables, but also dairy, nuts, meat, baked goods, and even non-food items. This cuts down on the number of stops you have to make during your regular shopping trip.

  • Budget Friendly—Who doesn’t want to save on their groceries? Farmers’ market customers say they shop at the markets to find a good price without having to compromise on quality.

  • Family Friendly—Farmers’ markets are a fun shopping experience for kids. They get fresh air and have the opportunity to interact with the people who have grown their food. And because some markets deal solely with cash, it’s an opportunity to help teach your child important math skills.

Farmers Market Alternatives

While cash was once king, nowadays many consumers deal only with plastic. Some farmers’ markets do accept credit cards or food stamps for payment, but many still run solely on cash. Thankfully, grocery stores have taken note of this growing trend, beefing up their produce, dairy, meat, and bakery departments, with a real focus on local and fresh merchandise. These farmers’-market–focused grocery stores are popping up in neighborhoods across the country, offering healthy merchandise as well as the convenience of credit cards with cash back on groceries.

Another option is to buy directly from the farm. Many farms and produce stands have updated their accepted forms of payment in recent years to help accommodate the credit card consumer. Larger operations tend to have websites, making it easy to locate and contact the produce farms in your area. It’s recommended that you make a quick call before hopping in the car to verify that they’ll accept credit as a form of payment.

And if you’re looking for ultimate freshness and convenience, you can also research available CSA (community-supported agriculture) opportunities in your area. With a CSA, you purchase a share of a farm’s production and in exchange receive a box of produce or other farm-grown items on a regular basis (often weekly or biweekly). The subscription is charged to your provided credit card and often the food is delivered directly to your neighborhood or even your doorstep. This provides you the farmers’ market goods without having to worry about crowds at the market or having to make an ATM run for cash. CSAs also help local farmers by providing financial security. Just keep in mind that because your farm goods are literally farm fresh, what you receive will be dependent upon what’s ripe and ready to harvest, so if you have a specific dish in mind, you may still need to stop by the store.

Finding the Option Best for You

Whether you’re looking for the authentic farmers’ market experience, or simply looking to provide healthy meals for your family that are environmentally and wallet friendly, there are several options that are now available to the American shopper. Finding the options that are best for you may be as simple as spending a couple of minutes online. If an internet search isn’t producing the results you’re looking for, don’t forget to visit the USDA National Farmers Market Directory, which not only lists markets by zip code but also includes information regarding the accepted forms of payment at the market.

(Research by Kelly; Writing by Meghan)

Kelly Teh is a contributing features writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Kelly Teh at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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