We love farmers' markets, from the bustling crowds to the brightly colored produce. But farmers' markets do so much more than sell fresh local produce - they support families, feed the needy and keep our communities healthy with good things from the earth. To celebrate these hard-working folks, this week, August 7-13, has been proclaimed National Farmers Market Week by United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. We're celebrating too - with a fantastic farm-fresh recipe for every day of the week.
Celebrate: Community Education Markets across the nation are educating communities about the benefits of local produce and making healthier choices. This summer, 50 members of the Farmers' Market Coalition participated in the Discover You Can program and taught 8,000 people in 27 states to make homemade canned goods. Recipe: Blackberry Freezer Jam
Celebrate: Public Health It’s no secret that eating fresh local food will lead to a healthier lifestyle. Studies of Los Angeles farmer market shoppers revealed that 99% of the participants believe their entire community is healthier due to the market. Recipe: Mexican Corn Salad
Celebrate: Markets as Economic Engines In this time of economic struggle, farmer markets are hard at work developing hundreds of jobs for unemployed Americans. In Iowa alone, 152 markets provided 576 jobs, $59.4 million in economic output, and a $17.8 million increase in income. Recipe: Cantaloupe and Tomato Salad
Celebrate: Farmers at the Center of the System Small and family-run farms often struggle with getting their products into consumers' hands. But their home-grown goods get a chance to shine at farmers' markets and the profits go straight to the farmers. According to a PolicyLink report, their returns are generally 200 to 250 percent higher than what they receive from wholesalers. Recipe: Tabbouleh with Green Beans and Feta
Celebrate: Fresh Food on Every Table Farmers markets have made it their mission to provide fresh fruits and veggies to all by planting themselves in urban areas and to return the community support by donating large amounts of fresh food to city shelters and regional charities. Recipe: Mango and Watermelon Salad
Celebrate: Engaging Volunteers Getting involved at the market isn’t just for the farmers. In fact, according to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, more than 60% are managed by volunteers who simply want to support their local growers. Recipe: Grilled Shrimp and Bell Peppers
Celebrate: Agricultural Diversity and Farm Viability Not all small farms have sprawling orchards in the middle of America’s rural heartland. Many family farms are located near booming commercial developments; farmers' markets are a viable source of income to these local food heroes. To find one near you or in an area where you're visiting, check out the USDA's locator website. Recipe: Baked Peaches with Brie
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