Avoiding health risks at the farmers’ market

Watch out for unpasteurized products, and ask vendors about food safety.

There's something magical about strolling through a farmers' market on a crisp autumn morning. The fruit and vegetables seem fresher there than they do in a store — apples taste tarter, tomatoes seem redder and riper. It's a farm-to-table connection that puts you in touch with nature and the harvest.

Maybe that's partly behind the explosion of farmers' markets across the country, climbing from about 2,000 markets in 1994 to more than 8,600 today, according to the Farmers Market Coalition. "It's a great way to get fresh produce and try different foods you may not have come across before. But it should be enjoyed with caution," urges Dr. Simi Padival, an infectious disease specialist with Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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