If I had a top ten list of favorite activities in the summer, going to the farmers market every week would definitely be on it. With local growers selling produce that was sometimes picked just that morning, it is the place to go to find perfectly ripe fruits and vegetables that taste better than anything trucked across the country or even the globe. By visiting the farmers market, I am able to support my local farmers directly. Along the way I have discovered produce that never shows up on my grocery store shelves like purslane, squash blossoms, and tatsoi. Plus, I find that the foods I buy at the farmers market last longer in the refrigerator because they didn’t spend any time on a grocery store shelf waiting for who knows how long to be purchased. Oh, and did I mention that the food tends to be less expensive? For all of those reasons and more, there’s every reason to celebrate the farmers market.
I’m not alone in my celebrating. This week the United States Postal Service released new farmers market-themed stamps. The release of the stamps coincides with the USDA’s 15th annual National Farmers Market Week, which runs from August 3rd to August 9th. They were created by artist Robert Moline under the direction of U.S. Postal Service art director, Greg Breeding. The stamps highlight the fruits, vegetables, breads, and flowers available at farmers markets across the country. They are Forever stamps, which means that consumers can use them at any point in the future, even if the cost of mailing letters goes up.
On the back of the 20-stamp sheet is this text:
“The sight of stalls piled high with locally grown food, the smell of flowers and freshly baked bread, the sound of conversations between friends and new acquaintances – farmers markets are so much more than just places to buy fruits and vegetables. In addition to supporting small farms and artisans, boosting local economies, and providing fresh seasonal food, farmers markets are considered by many to be the new town square. They offer, as they did in the past, a gathering place for diverse groups of neighbors to meet and mingle and to share news, recipes, and stories – in short, to create a new sense of community.”