As the temperatures rise and shorts and sandals are unpacked from their winter boxes, Omahans venture outside to support the Omaha Farmers Markets. Located in the Old Market on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Aksarben Village on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Omaha Farmers Markets feature more than 100 vendors between the two locations.

There are a variety of benefits from shopping at your local farmers market, such as buying fresh, local food, soaking up some Vitamin D and increasing your daily activity.

Farmers markets are a great way to purchase fresh produce. According to Nature’s Path Organic, store-bought veggies are likely to be a week old by the time they end up on your plate; most market farmers pick their produce the morning of the market.

Many market farmers also grow organic produce free of pesticides and picked at peak ripeness. Pesticides can be harmful to the human body and potentially irritate the skin or eyes, so offering organic produce can be an added benefit to some shoppers.

Going to a farmers market offers other health benefits besides the good food.  Studies have shown that, on average, Americans take 5,117 steps a day, far short of the recommended amount of 10,000 needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Farmers markets are active events, encouraging shoppers to walk from booth to booth, so you can get your steps in. You can even participate in an outdoor Jazzercise class at the Aksarben Market!

As an outdoor event, farmers markets also provide people with some much needed vitamin D. Vitamin D has plenty of health benefits, ranging from maintaining healthy bones and teeth to regulating insulin levels. According to Medical News Today, much of the population has Vitamin D deficiencies. By walking around the farmers market, you are soaking up some much needed sun. Just be sure to wear sunscreen to protect yourself from sunburns!

Farmers markets also promote sustainability. Produce travels 27 times less distance than conventionally sourced produce, and many farmers use practices consistent with organic standards. Markets also promote bringing reusable bags, and most booths provide sustainable packaging that doesn’t include plastic.

“Growing up, every Saturday morning we would go to the Lincoln farmers market as a family, so in each new city I have lived as an adult, the farmers market provides a strong connection to family tradition,” said Stephanie Roy. “Not only is it a relaxing way to start the weekend, it’s a fun way to try items I might not gravitate toward at the grocery store, while learning tips and tricks from the vendor about how to prepare something new and fresh for dinner.”

With all the benefits that farmers markets bring, you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. So grab your reusable bags, your kids or your dogs and head over to the Omaha Farmers Market this weekend!

The Omaha Farmers Markets in the Old Market and Aksarben Village run from now until mid-October. For more information, visit the Omaha Farmers Market website.