Local produce back on the menu as farmers markets return

BURIEN, Wash. -- The sun is out and people weave in and out of the booths that flank either side of 5th for two blocks in downtown Burien. For a large number of families growing weary of food safety warnings making headlines, they're coming to places like these -- farmers markets.

The markets pop up once or twice weekly in many areas, where consumers can actually meet the people that grow their food.

"We like knowing that it's local here," says mom Stephanie Lentz, who's got 3 1/2-year-old Jameson toddling around her and has baby Vivan in the stroller. "And we get to talk to the people that grow it."

Lentz was exploring the first day of the 2018 Burien Farmers Market on Thursday and she liked what she saw.

"We go for as local and as organic as we can," says Lentz, "and always for the plastic-free options."

This market is one of roughly 170 markets in Washington state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there's more than 8,000 nationwide. While that's double from about a decade ago, the numbers in the past few years show demand for direct-from-farmer food may have reached a plateau.

For many, like Mark Dobszinski who stopped by on his lunch break, convenience and proximity is a hindrance in coming to these events more regularly.

"I think the whole farmers market movement is an awesome thing, I try to support it."

Farmer Eleanor Ferrer sees the growing trend at the six markets she works weekly in the Seattle area. She operates out of Wapato in central Washington. But now her family owns a home in Kent, too, which makes the three-hour commute much easier.  She specializes in ethnic vegetables and she's got many loyal customers.

"I hear from them, it's more fresh than produce that comes from the grocery," says the Philippines native. She says her customers can taste the difference. "In farmers market, it's really fresh cause they're freshly gathered."

The Burien Famers Market runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays, but you can find a market with hours and location that works best for your family at this link here.