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Thursday, May 21, 2015 12:01 am

Shop farmers markets for good food

Photo BY DAVID HINE

 

Farmers markets are festive community events and showcase the Land of Lincoln’s other local treasure – its food! Buying local produce not only supports Illinois farmers, but also physical health and the environment. They just may perk up your social life, too.

Though not all vendors grow organic, many do, limiting the unknown chemicals you ingest with your lunch and those that flow into our water supply. When food doesn’t have to travel far, it gets to you at its peak with nutrients and full flavor intact. There is no contest between the taste of an in-season farmers market tomato and one that’s been languishing in a supermarket pile. Getting to know farmers is rewarding too. Forming relationships with the people who grow your food is a great way to understand and teach children where their dinner comes from – not to mention get ideas for recipes!  

Old Capitol Farmers Market

8am to 12:30pm Wednesdays and Saturdays, May-October

Wednesday, May 13, marked the opening of the Old Capitol Farmers Market downtown. Locals rely on the Old Capitol market for fresh and organic fruit, vegetables, meat, plants and baked goods on Wednesdays and Saturdays, May through October. The location is Adams street between Fifth and Second streets.

More than 60 vendors will participate in the farmers market this year. The market accepts LINK, debit and credit card transactions when you purchase Market Tokens for $1. Vendors also accept cash, checks, WIC and Senior Coupons.

Many special guests will round out the farmers market experience this year. Chefs will inspire visitors with demonstrations, radio broadcasts will provide an upbeat atmosphere, and creative activities will keep kids busy. Downtown Springfield, Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Maldaner’s, GenHkids and local musicians will collaborate to bring these activities to life.

Starting May 16, a juried group of local artists will sell original work every Saturday through Oct. 31 in the US Bank parking lot at the southeast corner of Fourth and Adams. This is a great place to shop for a friend’s birthday or a nonedible treat for yourself.

The market’s presenting sponsor, St. John’s Hospital, endeavors to highlight the role nutrition plays in overall health. To promote wellness, the hospital distributes health information and offers blood pressure checks, body fat analysis and other health screenings for children and adults. For a complete list of vendors, map and schedule of entertainment and activities, visit http://downtownspringfield.org.

Illinois Products Farmers Market

Thursdays, 4pm- 7pm
Additionally, the Illinois Products Farmers Market is open at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. This year, it is located at The Shed across from the Lincoln Stage. In June, patrons will be treated to “Grilling 101”, where registered dieticians will share advice about cooking meat and veggies outdoors. July is “Senior Month” featuring AARP-sponsored activities for seniors such as Bingo and cooking demonstrations. Springfield Clinic sponsors this market, which is open Thursday evenings 4-7 p.m., except during the State Fair. Aug. 13-23. SNAP cards can be used, as well as Senior and WIC coupons from the Farmers Market Nutrition Program. A list of products, visiting wineries and the Recipe of the Week can be found at
http://illinoisproductmarket.com.

East Side Farmers Market

Officials confirm that the East Side Farmers Market will take place again this year in the parking lot of the Sangamon County Public Health Department, 2833 S. Grand Ave. East. Sponsored by HSHS St. Johns Hospital, the market runs from the first full week of July through Sept. 30. Free cooking classes, taught by chefs from St. John’s Hospital, will be offered at the Sangamon County Public Health Dept. on Monday evenings through July and August. Call 814-7308 to register.

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