Our food system today would be unrecognizable to our ancestors, and the original farmer who planted the seeds and tended the chicken coop has disappeared completely from most of our lives. Farmers markets, and their increased visibility in cities and towns across America, are changing that, one locally grown vegetable at a time. Here are America’s 10 Best Farmers Markets.
While many grocery stores now have products with labels like “grass-fed,” “organic,” and “cage-free,” we don’t always know how trustworthy these claims are. But at farmers markets, where we can talk to farmers themselves, we know that whatever we are buying didn’t need an airplane to get there, and thus has no need for the many, many preservatives used to keep food from far-flung places fresh.
To build this list, we pulled from our recent list of the 101 Best Farmers Markets in America for 2015. There are plenty of attributes that we value in a good farmers market. Some important ones to consider are the quality and variety of products sold, how affordable products are, and what kind of public endorsement and recognition each particular farmers market receives. We also value the atmosphere we experience at the market, how friendly and helpful the vendors are, and what kind of information is made available to us about the market and its vendors.
This year, we tweaked the criteria for the ranking a bit, taking into account the markets’ own standards for vendors. We think it is important that farmers markets make the most of what their region has to offer and support local farmers instead of shipping in items from larger producers. Some markets even require vendors selling prepared food to only use ingredients they grew themselves, and their devotion to sustainability was taken into account when we made this list.
We further narrowed down this list by looking the number of vendors at each market, the market’s “street cred” — taking into account the number of Yelp reviews, the reviews themselves, and any accolades the market has won — the market’s devotion to all local produce and goods, and, finally, the market’s Twitter following.
Take a look at the markets that made it to the top 10.
#10 Phoenix Public Market, Phoenix
For many, the Phoenix Public Market is a Saturday morning tradition. With freshly made food like Indian tacos, fried fish, and pulled pork sandwiches (said to be the best in town), you might even stay for lunch at the market café.
#9 Hope Farmers Market, Austin
Described by some as "dripping with Austin attitude," the Hope Farmers Market is a gathering place for everyone. Visitors come to shop for fresh food and one-of-a-kind crafts, and to listen and dance to music performed by local musicians. With market food like wheatgrass, lavender, and mix-and-match ice cream cookie sandwiches, as well as handmade crafts like wooden rocking chairs and beaded jewelry, there’s something here for every free-spirited hipster of Austin.