Colorado farmers markets provide delicious, fresh foods during the pandemic

Aug. 6, 2020
Colorado farmers markets - A woman wearing a medical mask buyes bright red radishes
Colorado farmers markets are a great place to shop outdoors and find fresh, locally-grown food. Photo: Getty Images.

The chile roasters are firing up now. Spicy green chiles — ranging from mild to burning hot — will sizzle and pop as their skins blister, filling the air with an irresistible, smoky smell.

Along with Pueblo green chiles, August and September also bring Colorado’s other top farm favorites: Olathe sweet corn, Rocky Ford cantaloupe and Palisade peaches.

The pandemic has many Coloradans savoring summer at home. As you enjoy Colorado’s most beautiful months and long days, why not buy local this year too?

You can shop at farmers markets nearly every day of the week. Here’s a handy list of markets tended by Colorado Proud, a division of the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

When you shop at farmers markets, you’ll encounter some new safety measures aimed at keeping you healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. Yes, 2020 feels different, but you can still enjoy an outing to a market while supporting local Colorado farmers and livestock producers.

“More than ever, local buying and eating are not only good for agriculture; they are good for all Coloradans,” said Wendy White, marketing specialist for Colorado Proud. “Every time we buy local food and products, we are simultaneously boosting Colorado’s economy and heritage — with agriculture as one of the biggest economic drivers in the state.”

In addition to visiting farmers markets, this year, customers can also find great food through their regular restaurants. Since visits to restaurants have declined dramatically during the pandemic, many restaurant managers are connecting customers directly with their food suppliers. Or, they’re providing meals through food trucks and creating their own farm stands and online stores. If we want to be able to dine out in the post-pandemic world, we need to support the restaurants we love.

You can also support local farmers and ranchers by buying directly from them.

Here are some ideas for buying local this year:

And, here’s how things might look different at your farmers market this year:

  • Masks will be required for everyone: sellers and buyers alike. Be considerate and wear a mask.
  • Booths will be spaced further apart and sellers and buyers also will keep their distance.
  • There may be one-way paths guiding you where to go so you can maintain as much physical distance from others as possible.
  • You may not be able to pick your own produce this summer. That’s OK. Tell vendors what you want and they should be able to select and pack up juicy peaches and fragrant, ripe cantaloupes for you. (During a summer when Americans can’t travel to Europe, you can pretend you’re in a lovely Parisian or Roman market where the sellers always select items for you.)
  • Digital payments will be preferred. Skip cash. Reduce the likelihood that you and the vendors will be touching the same surfaces. Plan to pay with cards or digital payment apps.
  • Don’t expect extras at farmers markets. This year, organizers will be skipping playgrounds, dining areas, bathrooms and musical performances. Most likely, you’ll pick out your items and head home.
  • No samples this year. It was fun to taste a beekeeper’s honey or a dessert maker’s delights. But, in 2020, safety take precedence.
  • If you are sick, by all means stay home.

About the author

Katie Kerwin McCrimmon is a proud Colorado native. She attended Colorado College, thanks to a merit scholarship from the Boettcher Foundation, and worked as a park ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park during summer breaks from college. She is also a storyteller. She loves getting to know UCHealth patients and providers and sharing their inspiring stories.

Katie spent years working as a journalist at the Rocky Mountain News and was a finalist with a team of reporters for the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of a deadly wildfire in Glenwood Springs in 1994. Katie was the first reporter in the U.S. to track down and interview survivors of the tragic blaze, which left 14 firefighters dead.

She covered an array of beats over the years, including the environment, politics, education and criminal justice. She also loved covering stories in Congress and at the U.S. Supreme Court during a stint as the Rocky’s reporter in Washington, D.C.

Katie then worked as a reporter for an online health news site before joining the UCHealth team in 2017.

Katie and her husband Cyrus, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, have three children. The family loves traveling together anywhere from Glacier National Park to Cuba.