9 US Farmers Markets Every Food Lover Should Visit

You'll love these can't-miss farmers markets.

Assorted colorful fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market
Alexander Spatari / Getty Images

Food enthusiasts around the world have made a Saturday morning tradition of browsing the colorful stalls of their local farmers markets. Perhaps they do it because the food is fresher than any supermarket could hope for, or perhaps it's because eating locally and seasonally is a major way to help the planet.

The Farmers Market Coalition says food grown by your local farmers is less likely to be treated with chemicals. It can also be cheaper. Supporting small farms eliminates the risk of supporting factory farming and cuts down on all the emissions generated from shipping food from large producers to grocery stores around the country.

For most, the best farmers market in the world is the one they return to every Saturday morning. However, some markets stand out because of their size, diversity, or the overall quality of their products.

Here are nine farmers markets around the U.S. that every true aficionado should visit.

of 9

Santa Fe Farmers Market (New Mexico)

People surrounding farmers market tent selling worms for gardening

La Citta Vita / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Santa Fe Farmers Market is one of the main events in this popular tourist town. The thriving arts and culture scene here sets the market apart from many of its larger Southwestern peers. Every Tuesday and Saturday morning at the Santa Fe Railyard, artists set up shop alongside vendors selling locally grown produce and artisanal products such as jams, soaps, and bakery goods. Musical performances, special events, and kid-centered attractions lend the market a festival-like atmosphere.

For the Santa Fe Farmers Market Institute, the focus has always been on sustainability and supporting local businesses. All but three of the market's 150 vendors come from the 15 counties that make up the northern half of New Mexico. The market goes above and beyond to help its community, even holding regular cooking demonstrations and lending out tools to young farmers.

of 9

Des Moines Farmers Market (Iowa)

Aerial shot of people shopping at the Des Moines Market

Phil Roeder / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Held every Saturday, the sprawling Des Moines Farmers Market is the source of some of the best direct-from-the-producer goods in the whole Midwest. Almost 300 vendors come together to supply the people of Des Moines, Iowa, with fruits and vegetables, yes—but also flowers, wines, cheeses, baked goods, and dairy products galore.

On its website, the market clearly defines what it means by broadly used and sometimes-murky terms like "artisanal," "biodynamic," "closed herd," "dry-farmed," "grass-fed," "humane," and more.

of 9

Minneapolis Farmers Market (Minnesota)

People shopping along a long table full of colorful produce

Dave / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Minneapolis Farmers Market sits just outside of this large Minnesota city's main downtown section. Many of the vendors here are members of the Central Minnesota Vegetable Growers Association, which encourages forward-thinking farming methods like greenhouse farming, regenerative agriculture, and hydroponics.

One thing that really sets the Minneapolis Farmers Market apart is that it features multicultural foods seldom seen in smaller markets (or in any other markets in the Upper Midwest, for that matter), a product of Minneapolis’ diverse population. Another unique aspect of this market is its dedicated space, allowing it to be open every day of the week. A satellite market takes place downtown on Thursdays, and special events, including cooking classes and concerts, happen on the weekends.

of 9

Portland Farmers Market (Oregon)

Close-up of various vegetables on a farmers market table

SupportPDX / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Portland has one of the most organized and well-attended collections of farmers markets in the U.S. At least one of them is up and running most days of the week. The Saturday market at Portland State University is the main event. Samples and cooking information are available and provide visitors with a hands-on experience.

The Portland Farmers Market also has a Durable Dining initiative "to encourage more reuse and less waste at the markets by having hot food vendors at select markets serve their goods exclusively on reusable dishware." Consumers simply return their dishware at designated dirty dish stations

of 9

Union Square Greenmarket (New York)

People shopping at a table of very colorful produce

Phil Roeder / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Union Square Greenmarket proves that farmers markets can thrive anywhere, even in a big concrete jungle like New York City. As many as 60,000 people come to Union Square on market days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of each week) to shop, enjoy cooking demonstrations, and learn about gardening.

The Greenmarket is put on by GrowNYC, the same group that runs the citywide composting program, holds Stop 'N' Swap clothing exchanges, and is helping NYC schools go zero waste by 2030.

of 9

Dane County Farmers Market (Wisconsin)

Table of multicolored carrots at the farmers market

WisconsinKaasKop / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

The Dane County Farmers Market in Madison, Wisconsin, claims to be the largest producers-only farmers market in the U.S., seeing 300 vendors per year. On market days, Wednesday and Saturday, as many as 160 vendors set up stalls in central Madison, selling produce, artisanal goods, flowers, meats, cheeses, wines, jams, and honey. A nearby cluster of arts and crafts vendors and an assortment of street performers and musicians add to the exciting ambiance.

of 9

Crescent City Farmers Market (Louisiana)

Assorted greens displayed at a farmers market stall

Infrogmation of New Orleans / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Crescent City Farmers Market is pure New Orleans. Here, you'll find booths dedicated to cajun seasonings, king cake (also king cake donuts, king cake-inspired cheesecake, and more), jambalaya mix, fresh pecans, and so forth. It's one of the most unusual farmers markets you'll find in the country. Held in three locations on three days—Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday—the market is a great place to introduce yourself to the foods of this flavor-filled city.

of 9

Green City Market (Illinois)

Chefs doing a barbecue cooking demonstration at the farmers market

Kirk Bravender /Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Chicago's Green City Market is another prime example of a farmers market thriving in a big-city setting. It was the first farmers market in the country to require all participating farmers to be certified by a nationally-recognized third party such as Certified Naturally Grown, USDA Certified Organic, and/or Animal Welfare Approved.

An indoor farmers market is open year-round two or three days a week, and the three outdoor markets are open Wednesday through Saturday during the summer and fall. In addition to a huge array of food and locally made products, this market has cooking demonstrations by some of the most famous chefs in the city and other cooking and gardening classes taught by local experts and enthusiasts.

of 9

Hilo Farmers Market (Hawaii)

Close-up of pineapples and rambutans on farmers market table

Brock Rosebury / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Hilo Farmers Market is one of the best in the U.S. not because of its size but, rather, because of its unusual food lineup. Think tropical produce like daikon, passion fruit, star fruit, and rambutan sold alongside freshly cut orchids.

Located in the city of Hilo on Hawaii's Big Island, the market runs all day on Wednesday and Saturday, with more than 200 vendors taking part on the busiest days. In addition to the produce, vendors also offer Hawaii-inspired art like jewelry made from locally grown ferns. Since the Big Island gets fewer tourists than Oahu or Maui, the Hilo market is a good place to enjoy an authentic, non-touristy taste of Hawaii.

View Article Sources
  1. "Farmers Markets Promote Sustainability." Farmers Market Coalition.