Looking for Fresh and Healthy Food? Try Roadside Stands and Farmers Markets

Bright sunflowers for sale in a bucket at a farmers market.

Whenever I travel, I check out the local fruit and veggie stands and farmers markets. It’s a great way to try local produce in season and get great bargains at the same time.

I never go through eastern Washington without stopping for a box of apples, pears or apricots—or at least a bag of cherries for the car. In Oregon I pick up hazelnuts or U-pick peaches. In Argentina we discovered two varieties of apples we didn’t know, and in Greece I had the best watermelon I have ever tasted! I wonder what the Transportation Security Administration folks thought when they opened my luggage and saw a braid of 20 garlic cloves among my clothes?

Many permanent produce stands sell dried fruits, nuts and veggie chips—healthy snacks if you are on a road trip. On a recent jaunt to California, our fresh strawberries and pistachios never made it out of the car. They were a much healthier choice than chips and soda from the gas station.

In most seasons of the year I visit a fruit stand near my home to get veggie and flower starts, eastern Washington stone fruit and apples, early rhubarb and lots of locally grown produce. I save quite a bit of money and support local growers.

Chances are good there’s a farmers market near you. There are about 30 in King County and well over 100 across Washington. Most farmers markets in Seattle and King County are open one day a week. To find a market near you or to see a schedule, visit the Washington State Farmers Market Associationor King County Farmers Market.

Take a friend and go for a snacking lunch as you amble through stalls—it feels like a country fair. In addition to farm-fresh produce, local farmers markets often have eggs, cheeses, honey, nuts, local beers and wines and sometimes baked goods.

Seattle farmers markets

The Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets Alliance oversees seven local markets. Visit its website for hours, addresses and other information.

Year-round markets:

Capitol Hill/Broadway: Sundays
U District: Saturdays
West Seattle: Sundays

Seasonal markets:

Columbia City: Wednesdays, May 3 to Oct. 11
Lake City: Thursdays, June 8 to Oct. 5
Magnolia: Saturdays, June 3 to Oct. 14
Phinney: Fridays, June 2 to Oct. 6

If you are an electronic benefit transfer card user, you can get a matching $10 voucher when you purchase $10 worth of fresh fruit and veggies at any Seattle farmers market through the Fresh Bucks program. Thanks to dedicated people who care about your access to fresh foods, a similar program will soon be statewide.

Contributor Katy G. Wilkens is a registered dietitian and department head at Northwest Kidney Centers. A recipient of the Susan Knapp Excellence in Education Award from the National Kidney Foundation Council on Renal Nutrition, she has a Master of Science degree in nutritional sciences from the University of Washington. See more of her recipes at

For additional information and resources, see the article Fresh Bucks – Extra Buying Power for Low-Income Farmers Market Shoppers in the June 2017 issue of AgeWise King County.

Originally appeared in AgeWise King County (August 2017)