It's great to see the number growing. This means more access in more communities for fresh produce. Many markets offer a large portion of their produce as organic meaning no pesticides used to grow the vegetables and fruit. It also means a wider variety of vegetables and fruit compared to what you might find in the grocery store. It goes with out saying that your purchases help local farmers, too!
My experiences with farmers markets have been overwhelmingly positive. The organic vegetables look great and taste fresh. Some of the best meals I've made have been based on ingredients from farmers markets. Some of the unique items I've purchased include purple bell peppers, purple Peruvian potatoes, purple kale, super fresh basil, amazing asparagus, delicious cherries, blueberries and raspberries, and countless types of unique mushrooms and eggplant. Many markets I've been to have great vegan baked goods as well including bread, pies, and cookies.
So if you're interested in cooking with fresh ingredients which will give your meals the extra edge, try visiting a farmers market and see what they have! Next week is Farmers Markets Week hosted by the USDA and a national listing of registered markets can be found at www.farmersmarkets.usda.gov.