If you’ve got food stamps, then why not use them to help out keep your local farmers alive as well?

Take for example the programs of the Downtown Farmers Market in Salt Lake City and the Hamilton Farmers Market in New York.

These programs have accepted food stamps in exchange for fresh produce and have once again done it this year. What makes this so special is that not only are food stamp recipients being given access to a wider, healthier variety of foods, but they also end up helping out local small-time farmers who are likewise struggling in these economic conditions.

Diane Eggert of the NY Farmers Market Federation adds that “not only are they (food stamp holders) able to obtain farm-fresh food, they have access to vendors and farmers who are ready and willing to share advice, tips and recipes.”

This is a very big thing too. Simply snapping up goods at the grocery and having them bagged just can’t compare to chatting and learning from the farmers themselves who know the most about the produce they sell. Being able to cook up a tasty but affordable meal or pickle a few veggies for long-term storage are pretty nifty things, and where better to learn from than the folks who grow the food?

This also helps validate the food stamp holders as well. They aren’t just “second-class citizens” forced to live with the assistance of the state, but paying customers who support and validate the farmers who have to compete with mega-corporations on a daily basis.

If you live in Utah and want to learn more about these programs, simply visit the Utahns Against Hunger (UAH) website for the schedule of participating markets. In New York, you can visit the SnapToMarket tool of the New York Farmers Market Federation and use their Market Locator tool to find a nearby market.

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