Farmers markets celebrate fresh local produce and products, promoting sustainable and seasonal goods whenever possible.
As consumers grow increasingly mindful of their food sources and chefs appreciate and support small family farmers, the opportunities to savor the freshest flavors of the season will grow.
In Carmel Valley, California, farmer Mark Marino of Earthbound Farms has a year-round relationship with countless local consumers, restaurateurs and retailers. Marino says, "When you cook with locally grown organic produce, you can definitely perceive the soul of the food. The flavors are so intensely rewarding that they reaffirm our need for a connection to the natural world."
Try shopping at your local Farmers market, and taste how eating locally makes such a delicious difference. Here are five of Travel Channel's favorites.
Ballard Sunday Farmers Market
Where: Stretches along historic Ballard Avenue, between 20th Avenue NW and 22nd Avenue NW, Seattle, WA
Don't-miss items: Veraci pizza, Taylor Shellfish Farm oysters, CasCioppo Brothers' sausages at Dante's Inferno Dogs.
Why it's popular: With more than 100 vendors and street musicians, this laid-back market is not only family-, kid- and dog-friendly, it's a neighborhood social institution.
Reading Terminal Market
Where: 12th and Arch Streets, Philadelphia, PA
Don't-miss items: Cannolis at Termini Brothers Bakery, Bassetts ice cream, Fisher's soft pretzels, whoopee pies, scrapple at Down Home Diner.
Why it's popular: Despite weekend and lunchtime crowds, this market is an absolute gem for anyone who likes to eat, cook or entertain. Prices are reasonable, and you can't find a better side-by-side lineup of ethnic eating options in Philly.
Ferry Building Marketplace
Where: One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA
Don't-miss items: Tsar Nicolai caviar tasting menu, Red Hawk cheese at Cowgirl Creamery, hand-scooped milkshakes at Taylor's Refresher, Niman Ranch pork spareribs at Slanted Door.
Why it's popular: This is the best single stop if you're looking for a taste of San Francisco. Swing by for lunch or to stock up on hard-to-find specialty foodstuffs, such as Candy Cap mushrooms, handmade marshmallows or made-daily creme fraiche. It's pricy, but it's an indisputably pure foodie heaven.
Barton Creek Farmers Market
Where: 2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy, Austin, Texas 78746
Don't-miss items: Antibiotic-/hormone-free chicken and beef, Austin yummy yogurt, gulf-harvested shrimp and Oaxacan Tamaleos.
Why it's popular: Endorsed by Wolfgang Puck and rated one of the top 10 Farmers markets in the country by the Audubon Society, 75% of the products are grown organically. Live music and kid-centric activities make it a family weekend outing favorite.
Oahu Saturday Farmers Market at KCC
Where: Kapi'olani Community College, 4303 Diamond Head Road, Oahu, HI
Don't-miss items: Hawaiian hearts of palm, Big Island Bees honey, local free-range eggs, lumpia and grass-fed Haleiwa beef.
Why it's popular: Although locals go for the Hawaiian-grown produce, it's a great place for visitors to sample some of the island's tastiest regional fare. Sit in the grassy area with a cup of coffee, a freshly baked goodie or a pulled kalua pork sandwich for some of Oahu's best people-watching.
Six Reasons to Shop at Farmers Markets:
1. When you shop at a farmers market, you're getting fresh fruits and vegetables.
2. You'll find seasonal foods that will broaden your cooking experiences.
3. By shopping at a farmers market, you're supporting local farmers and their families.
4. Supporting local farmers and agriculture helps to preserve agricultural lands.
5. Buying local products helps sustain the state's economy.
6. Farmers markets are a great opportunity to learn about where your food comes from.