November marks the end of harvest season, which culminates in the traditional celebration of Thanksgiving.

Amid the sugary pies, turkey bowl games, and festive parades, Thanksgiving remains a celebration of the year’s bountiful harvest, family, and friendships. While many of us think of commerce during Thanksgiving season in terms of shoppers standing in long lines on Black Friday to take advantage of holiday promotions, we shouldn’t overlook the culmination of the farmers market season, which also has an important impact on Idaho’s economy. According to the Idaho Farmers Market Association, farmers markets brought in over $4.2 million dollars in annual sales across the state in 2015.

From early April through late October (and even December for some markets), Idaho hosts more than 40 farmers markets statewide, which bring communities together. Such markets are an ideal venue for the nearly 1,700 vendors who sell their produce, meat, dairy, and homemade items at these markets. In the agricultural industry, where many items need to be sold and bought fresh, farmers markets allow vendors to sell their items within days or hours of harvest.

In order to provide opportunities and benefits for low-income customers, approximately 75 percent of Idaho farmers markets accept food stamp programs. Thirteen farmers markets in the state participate in the Double Up Food Bucks program, which incentivizes low-income Idahoans to purchase more fruits and vegetables. For every food stamp benefit a participant redeems at participating farmers market, he or she will receive an additional token to spend on fruits and vegetables. The program is a triple-win: federal food dollars stay in the local economy, local farmers experience an increase in income, and Idahoans gain access to healthy fruits and vegetables. In this way, farmers markets connect Idaho vendors with residents of all income levels to promote a healthier state.

In fact, Idaho is a growing leader in incentivizing healthy food choices. For instance, the City of Boise was one of the first local governments in the United States to allocate budgetary dollars toward healthy food incentivizing at farmers markets. "The Double Up Food Bucks program ensures that Idahoans of all income levels are able to shop at farmers markets where they can learn from farmers, purchase more fruits and vegetables, and interact with their communities," says Denise Dixon of the Homedale Farmers Market, a program participant since 2015. The Idaho Farmers Market Association is preparing to apply for a USDA grant that would support a statewide program and looks forward to partnering with other sectors that are interested in strengthening this program.

While farmers markets throughout the state differ in their offerings, size, and economic impact, each one contributes to the overall dynamic and health—both financial and physical—of its community. Customers flock to farmers markets to buy locally-grown, fresh produce, and the transactions benefit all parties. Some farmers and local craftsmen in Idaho earn the majority of their revenue from these markets. As you look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving later this month, you might consider including items from your local farmers market.

Idaho Job Report. Idaho’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.8% in August, and the national unemployment rate also remained unchanged at 4.9% in August. 

Idaho Housing Market. In August, the CoreLogic® Home Price Index (HPI) for Idaho, which measures home price appreciation, experienced a year-over-year increase of 7.4%.  Nationally, the HPI increased 6.2% during the same period.

U.S. Inflation. The U.S. Consumer Price Index increased 0.1% from July to August. Year over year, the index increased 1.1%, which is below the Federal Reserve’s target annual inflation pace of 2%.

U.S. Consumer Confidence. The U.S. Consumer Confidence Index® increased 2.3 points to 104.1 in September. The Present Situation Index increased 3.2 points to 128.5, and the Expectations Index increased 1.7 points to 87.8.