Getting FRESH: Locally grown foods in abundance at markets, stands

One of the best things you can do to make sure you live a longer, healthier life is to feed yourself well. A less well-known fact is that being engaged in your community also leads to longer, healthier lives.

We are fortunate to have more local farms in Chautauqua County than anywhere else in New York state. Be smart. Take advantage of this good fortune. Shop locally.

Not only will you find the most delicious foods at their just-picked, peak nutritional value, you’ll also find plenty of opportunities to socialize, enjoy local entertainment, and be part of a community that is creating a stronger, healthier local economy.

Many farmers’ markets conduct special events throughout the summer. Be on the lookout for fun activities for kids, live music, cooking demonstrations and food tastings, and lots of informational booths. Most markets are listed at

While there, don’t forget to take advantage of special programs that can help you save money! Senior citizens and WIC participants may qualify for Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) checks. These checks can be used to purchase foods from farmers posting a sign in their stand saying they accept FMNP checks. Contact the Office for the Aging or WIC if you’re interested.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits can be used at many farm stands and farmer’s markets. SNAP benefits can be spent on almost anything edible, except for ready-to-eat, prepared foods, or alcohol. To find a SNAP market near you, visit SNAP markets will have a banner in a central location, usually at the manager’s tent. SNAP recipients swipe their SNAP EBT card there to get wooden coins to use like cash to purchase eligible foods from SNAP farmers.

For every $2 of SNAP benefits spent at a Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) market, you can receive another two dollars of silver tokens to use to purchase fresh produce, up to a maximum of twenty dollars a day.

Some people choose to use all of their SNAP and DUFB funds to buy fruits and vegetables. Others spend their DUFB coins on produce, saving their SNAP coins for meats, poultry, eggs, cheese, honey, maple syrup, juices or baked goods. SNAP can also be used to buy herbs, plants, and seeds that bear food. Find a DUFB market near you at

Visit farmer’s markets and farm stands all across Chautauqua County. They’re exploding with the freshest locally grown produce that costs less, tastes great, and is so good for you.

Chautauqua County has high rates of both heart attack and stroke, but an estimated 80% of heart attacks and strokes are preventable. CHQ250 is an initiative of the Chautauqua Health Action Team(CHAT), encouraging you to take action to be one of at least 250 strokes, heart attacks, or related deaths prevented in Chautauqua County in the coming year. This column is written by CHAT members to share information to help you to do your part to live a life free of stroke or heart disease; it is not intended to replace advice provided by your healthcare team. Please direct questions or comments to: