Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles stressed the importance of farmers markets this week, which was Kentucky’s Farmers Markets Week.

“Fresh Food. Fresh Thinking.” It’s a new advertising campaign to promote shopping at farmers markets; it coincided with Kentucky Double Dollars, a program to double the buying power of Kentuckians receiving federal nutrition benefits at 43 of Kentucky’s 164 farmers markets.

The chance to shop at a farmers market is a gift from the earth. The produce found there is like no other — it couldn’t be fresher and the flavors are much richer than that of mass-produced foods. Those who have never tasted a juicy, heirloom tomato or a sweet ear of Silver Queen corn owe it to themselves to visit a farmers market today.

Farmers markets are an essential part of our local economy and an important link to a largely bygone way of life. Shopping with local people for locally produced items helps to preserve our rural lifestyles and farmland and stimultate the local economy.

Farmers markets a reasonably priced source of nutritious vegetables and other items.

During the pandemic, they are a safer way of obtaining basic food items, as they are usually outside and the opportunity to practice social distancing is in place.

Shopping at a farmers market gives you the chance to socialize and meet new people, things that are sorely lacking in today’s coronavirus environment. Talking with producers helps shoppers appreciate the items they’re buying and gives them insights into the best use of the items, whether the items are peppers, zucchini and beans or lotions and soaps.

In our area, most farmers markets are open on Saturday. Today would be a good day to visit your local farmers market and see what’s available. With the wide variety sold there, shoppers can surely find a good deal on something they need while getting some fresh air and contributing to the livelihood of a fellow Kentuckian.

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