Saturday, September 4, 2010

Farmer's Markets at Your Fingertips - new search engine makes finding Famer's Markets easier!

Woo Hoo! I am SO excited about this new tool! Not often do government search engines interest me, typically, while the intent is good, they somehow miss the mark on what is truly needed and become more cumbersome than helpful. But this one is a definite winner. There’s been a lot of talk as of late, especially with the help of First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move campaign encouraging people to support local farmers by shopping at Farmer’s Markets. Many people have been taking up the banner and doing so, but for as many who have changed their shopping patterns to incorporate Farmer’s Markets, there are many who would like to but can’t because they just don’t know where or how to find one in their area. Well, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has recently launched a new search engine to help consumers find local Farmer’s Markets in their listing more than 6,100 markets. A 2010 count showed that there are 6,132 listed Farmer’s Markets in the US. I wish this had been introduced earlier in the summer when many Farmer’s Markets started, but at least we have it now and can use it going forward. I’ve checked out the search engine and it’s pretty simple to use. You can search by state, city, county, and zip code.

According to the Let’s Move blog, “The search engine is a great tool for local growers and sellers, as market managers can provide the public with important information like hours of operations, acceptable forms of payment, or programs supported. Consumers can use the tool to become more informed shoppers by searching for locations, product availability and payment options”

What’s even more exciting is that this search engine does not limit itself to the 48 continental states, but includes ALL states and US territories. Curious to see how far reaching this search engine was, I checked for markets in Guam and Palau and there are no markets listed. But then again, everything there is so fresh there probably isn’t a need for Farmer’s Markets as we’re used to here on the mainland. That said, there are 4 listed in the US Virgin Islands. They’ve also included a feature to let you know what forms of payment are accepted and for those on fixed incomes, which programs are accepted such as the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Talking about making fresh food accessible to everyone. This is definitely a move in the right direction!

Check it out!

US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service:

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