CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - It is a sure sign of spring. The official start to farmers market season kicks off in Cape Girardeau on Thursday.
The Cape Farmers Market at West Park Mall is the first of three to open in the county. It starts at noon and runs until 5 p.m.
If you attend, you can expect to see a lot of vendors.
According to market manager Marilyn Peters, she has booked the most vendors she has ever had in the 31 years the market has been going on.
In fact, Peters said they have a waiting list of people hoping to be called for an opening.
For shoppers, that means a lot of variety.
At the market, there will be fresh salmon, unusual vegetables, baked goods, organically foods, and fresh meats.
With all those options researchers at Kansas State University say good food handling practices are just as important for foods purchased from a farmers market as those from a grocery store.
"Just because it's grown locally doesn't necessarily make that the magic food that's safer than what you get out of the grocery store," Karen Blakeslee said. "You still need to handle it properly; you still need to wash it."
The best practice is to wash fruits and vegetables right before you eat them so they stay as fresh as possible.
Peters said the Cape Girardeau County Health Department will be out at the farmers market on Thursday to ensure that sellers have a license.
Those selling baked goods must also have them wrapped and use gloves to serve them.
All meats have to come from a state or federal processing plant.
Peters says food safety is one of the most important aspects of a successful farmers market.
According to Peters. fresh, home grown options are why farmers markets are becoming more popular and have kept this one running for more than three decades.
Peters said more people are concerned about their food. The good news about farmers markets: smaller farms typically don't use chemicals in the growing process.
At this years Cape Farmers market, there will even be three new vendors selling organic produce.
As for the Cape Riverfront Market, it will start May 7.
The season for the Jackson Farmers market begins on on May 3.