North Carolina is No. 10 on the list of states that have the most farmers markets, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2011 National Farmers Market Directory. Nationwide, there are 7,175 farmers market — a 17 percent increase from last year. That growth "is an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods," said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. "These outlets provide economic benefits for producers to grow their businesses and also to communities by providing increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods. In short, they are a critical ingredient in our nation's food system."
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