Enjoy the bounty of your local farmers markets and growers.

Only 1 in 10 adults gets the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Needing to up your game? Try shopping at an Illinois Farmers Market or produce stand. You’ll learn what’s in season, how to wash and cut different fruits and vegetables, and how to transform them into delicious dishes everyone will enjoy. Discover the art of menu planning, be inspired, and take away new recipes to try! Read our Tips for Sampling the Season.

Health Benefits of Eating Fruits and Vegetables

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can:

  • Lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer
  • Lower the risk of eye and digestive problems
  • Lower the risk of weight gain
  • Increases sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber
  • Reduce high blood pressure

Fruits and vegetables travel an average traveled an average of 1,500 miles from farm to packing plant to the grocery store. Along the journey, produce may have lost vitamins. Other nutrients, like minerals, carbohydrates, fat, and protein, should remain the same. Buying locally grown foods limits the distance traveled and vitamin loss.

Benefits to Local Economies

Buying local foods from direct-to-consumer (DTC) options include purchasing food from farmers markets, farm stands, or community supported agriculture. Researchers have found that people who buy from DTC outlets are more likely to engage in several healthy practices, including having their own vegetable garden, being aware of the MyPlate campaign to promote federal dietary guidelines, and searching the internet for information on healthy eating. People who bought from DTC outlets were also more likely to rate the healthfulness of their family’s diet as excellent or very good.

Purchasing 15% of a family’s food budget from local farmers results in a $639 million increase in the central Illinois economy. For every $1 million in revenue, direct-market farms create almost 32 local jobs; whereas, larger wholesale growers create only 10.5. For every dollar spent at the grocery store, only 16 cents goes to the farmer. At the farmers market, the farmer receives the full benefit. 

What’s in season?

  • Spring: Asparagus, peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes, rhubarb, strawberries, onions, cabbages, sour cherries, sprouts, squash
  • Summer: Cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, melon, berries. apples, eggplant, nectarines, okra, peaches, potatoes, garlic, carrots, turnips, peppers, beets, sweet corn, raspberries, blueberries
  • Fall: Winter squash, sweet corn, beets, turnips, apples, pears, salad greens, green beans, rutabaga, gourds, pumpkins, parsnips, pears, apples, grapes
  • Winter: Winter squash, cabbage, collard greens, potatoes, beets

Shopping tips

  • Check your local newspaper and social media for types of produce available near you.
  • Bring cash and a clean, reusable bag.
  • Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Don’t overbuy — you can come back next week!
  • Stroll through the entire market before you buy to check on what foods are available and to compare prices between vendors.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables just before serving.
  • Buy meat that has been kept at 41F° and keep it separate from other products.
  • Only buy pasteurized cider.

Check out these Tips for Buying Fresh from the Farmers Market. Need help for your produce? Watch these short videos.