Supporting your Local Farmers Markets

From Our Gastonia, NC Correspondent

Spring is in full swing around the country, and that means farmer’s markets are reopening for the season, stocked with all the freshest produce and locally made products your locality has to offer. If you think of a farmer’s market as a couple of weatherbeaten farmers presiding over bins of tomatoes, corn and squash, it’s time to get out of the grocery store and get “back to the farm.”

Here in my little North Carolina town, there are a good half-dozen markets within an easy drive on any given weekend. This time of year, the strawberries are in season, and one bite will cure you of ever buying the overly hybridized grocery store varieties, which are engineered for durability and longevity, rather than sweetness and flavor. As the season goes on, the strawberries will give way to blueberries, then peaches, then blackberries and sometimes, if Mother Nature allows, a second crop of strawberries late in the year.

But beyond the produce, there’s another world of comestibles to discover. Again at my local markets, I can find freshly baked breads in varieties from challah and sourdough to tomato-basil and spent grain, made from the grain left over after beer is brewed. A local goat farm markets amazing cheeses, soaps and skin creams. Ranchers sell grass-fed beef, free-range chickens and turkeys and even more exotic fare like goat and rabbit. My sons have become spoiled to the farm-fresh eggs, with their rich, deep yellow yolks, and the breakfast sausage made by a local hog farm.

I know this may seem like a small issue given the challenges our country is facing, but you’re directly supporting local businesses by patronizing farmer’s markets, and taking a stand for local producers whose work supports not just their own families, but those of their workers. Plus, the stuff just TASTES better!

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