They’re back. And, those of us who have chosen to embrace the locavore lifestyle are glad.

The good news is that awareness is up and Americans eat more fresh foods than they did five years ago. And, more conscientious consumers favor foods grown or produced in local communities. We’ve written a lot in the past about CSAs and the benefits of membership, along with what we think are some of the top farmer’s markets across the country.

Farmer’s markets are a part of a community’s artistic tradition and provide a glimpse into the local culture. Each vendor has a singular gift for artistic display of seasonal offerings that create an exhibition of color and light to rival Monet’s garden at Giverny. Vendors are masters of the art of composition and early arrivals of pointillistically placed produce, flowers and other products create a shining, harmonious whole. The vendor’s canvas changes as the season progresses, which makes the market an ever-changing delight.

Now even backyard kitchen gardeners get into the action by bringing their products to local markets. Some set up on a card table or simple cardboard box with a colorful cloth, arrange their product into spots of color that refresh the eye, and with a hand lettered sign and change, they’re in business.

The knock on locavore lifestyle has been access, but that no longer applies. The trend of turning empty, unsightly city lots into gardens and CSAs is on the upswing. Think urban farm to market! Still it’s not easy being an urban farmer as Novella Carpenter, author of Farm City and who runs Ghost Town Farm in Oakland, California on a very urban street can tell you.

Most farmer’s markets take SNAP, and the long-term benefit is better overall health. One of the many things Americans on food stamps say they have had to give up is fresh, organic and naturally grown foods. Celebrity chef Mario Batali and his family recently challenged themselves to eat on $124 a week – the average budget for a family of 4 on food stamps in the U.S. It isn’t easy, but with an investment in time management, it is feasible.

Markets also provide handy mobile bank cash machines to use when you run out of cash. The Farmers’ Market EBT Program allows customers to swipe their EBT (electronic benefit transfer) food stamp, credit, or debit card on these wireless transaction machines. Another interesting new way to pay for your goodies that many markets offer is a mobile payment platform called Square.

During the market’s off-season downtime, many of us buy locally sourced when supermarket shopping to reduce our “food miles” and support our community food systems. It’s a way to embrace “connected markets” to ensure our purchases support growth and production of responsible and sustainable food systems. Here’s a neat “lexicon of sustainability” to clear up some of the confusion about terms.

With Father’s Day not too far off, give Dad a gift certificate to a favorite food vendor at the farmer’s market. Tapas, empañadas, bison burgers, Thai steamed buns, Szechuan BBQ, chai, espressos and baked goods galore make for sinful grazing joy.

We’re leading up to Father’s Day with an “active elders” contest and want to know what you think is the best way to keep parents and older loved ones active.

Your suggestions will be entered into a drawing the week of Father’s Day for a gift giveaway from Clarity, a leading provider of communication solutions for seniors. The winner receives Clarity’s W435 Pro cordless amplified phone we’re calling the Louder Clear Conversations prize. This makes a practical gift for an older father or for your granddad or for any golden ager guy in your life. And, for a limited time, all our boomer readers can take advantage of this special discounted Father’s Day price.

Aging well on the longevity road is a common desire and a key part of the healthy lifestyle equation is staying active. So get busy and send us your ideas. The way to enter is to provide a comment on the blog page, or Tweet or Facebook Bette Boomer your idea.

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