WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- More than 1,000 new farmers markets dot the U.S. landscape this year, bringing the total number to more than 7,000, federal officials say.
The current U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Farmers Market Directory says a total of 7,175 farmers markets operate throughout the United States as more farmers are marketing their products directly to consumers -- a 17 percent increase from last year.
This year's National Farmers Market Directory was released in advance of National Farmers Market Week, which begins Sunday.
"The remarkable growth in farmers markets is an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods," Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary at the Department of Agriculture, says in a statement.
"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."
The Top 10 states for farmers markets in this year are: California with 729, New York with 520, Michigan with 349, Illinois with 305, Ohio with 278, Pennsylvania with 266, Massachusetts with 255, Iowa with 237, Wisconsin with 231 and North Carolina with 217.
To locate a farmers market via ZIP code search, see the directory at: http://farmersmarkets.usda.gov.