Roadside stands selling fresh fruits and vegetables are busy in every region of the United States. Some sell fresh produce, sometimes right from the farm, while others are highly organized fruit and vegetable retailers, who may or may not offer the best products available. Small farm stands are often open only during the summer season, while larger stands offer products all year round, just like supermarkets.
Farmers markets are open for business in communities all across the United States. Many communities host outdoor farmers markets once or twice a week during the summer, while indoor farmers markets in larger communities can operate all year long. The farmers market will usually be set up in a park, parking lot, or yard of a school or library. Local entertainers and musicians may perform, children’s activities may be available, and the farmers market may function as a convivial community meeting place.
The idea of the farmers markets is that local producers of fruits and vegetables will bring in and sell their fresh produce without having to go through cumbersome distribution chains, selling directly to the consumer. The products available at a typical farmers market will vary through the season. In addition to fruits and vegetables, many farmers markets have tables offering jams and preserves, honey, baked goods and other specialty food items. Many sellers at farmers markets offer fresh or organic produce, but it always it pays to investigate the source of the products.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) operates a model farmer’s market in Washington, DC that operates five days a week between June and October. Featuring 14 major vendors from the surrounding area, the market attracts more than 2500 customers daily.