Thanksgiving gets a healthy makeover with local farmers market

Columbia Farmers Market offers locally grown produce, meats, and fresh baked goods in their first ever Thanksgiving-themed food market
Vendors sell a wide range of homemade goods at the Columbia Farmers Market on West Ash Street. The market is open year-round in locations across the city.

We live in a country that is becoming more aware of what it eats — despite being one of the fattest countries in the world, America trying to be more health conscious.

Just ask big names such as Chipotle, which recently became the first restaurant chain to totally get rid of genetically modified organisms in their foods in 2015, and with stores like Whole Foods open across in the nation, it’s easier than ever to eat well.

Columbia has a farmers market that has been around since the 1980s. The market meets every Saturday between the months of April and November at the Activity and Recreation Center, and then switches locations in early November to the Parkade Center for the fall and winter months.

Over the past couple of years, the Columbia Farmers Market has experienced amazing growth, with customer counts regularly surpassing 4,000 per week and vendor membership expanding to include nearly 80 local farmers, producers and artisans.

For the first time ever, the Columbia Farmers Market is having a Thanksgiving-themed market — the organization hopes to gain community support in this endeavor as well educate buyers on the seasonality of food, especially around the holidays.

Buyers at the market can expect to see fresh produce, cheese, meats, baked goods and canned goods vendors. Customers will be able to find items such as sweet potatoes, winter squashes, tomatoes, greens and lettuces, beef, chicken, lamb, eggs, cheese, breads and pies. All vendors at the market are required to be from a 50-mile radius, and they all have to be producers, which means that whoever is selling the product either grew or raised it themselves.

Corrina Rhea Smith, the market manager for the past three years, says the themed shopping experience offers vendors the opportunity to have one more market to sell their items and gives shoppers the chance to have fresh items for Thanksgiving.

As the market continues to grow in numbers, the group has adopted a program called Access to Healthy Foods. With this program the market gives families on food stamps or WIC with young children $25 to spend at the market once a week. This program will be available for the Thanksgiving market for shoppers who need it.

“It’s kind of helping everyone,” Smith says. “You’re getting that healthy fresh food into the homes of families that really need food, and it’s also helping increase our local farmers’ sales.”

You can catch the Thanksgiving-themed farmers market 3-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24 at the Parkade Center. They accept all major credit/debit cards and cash.

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