Fresh, local, homemade are markets' mantras

"Fresh." "Local." "Homemade."

Lately those are popular buzzwords among consumers looking for the best and healthiest food alternatives. But for me, they mean mouth-watering good.

So you don't miss local, eastern Cabarrus homegrown goodness, here are two places you can go to find fresh, local and homemade.

The town of Mount Pleasant began sponsoring a farmers market for the first time this May. Scheduled to continue through mid-August, it is in the mini-park on Main Street at 4 p.m. Tuesdays.

Town Administrator Adrian Cox, said there's been a very good turnout of vendors and shoppers on Tuesdays, and the space is also available to vendors after noon Saturdays. At least half the produce offered must be grown by the vendors. Cox said fresh vegetables are the main items sold.

Kent Lowder of Muddy Boots Farms is a regular vendor at the Mount Pleasant Market. He sells mostly tomatoes and sweet corn but sometimes brings along other fresh items, such as cucumbers and melons. His produce also is available six days a week at the farm in Millingport.

One of Lowder's other weekly stops is the Locust Farmers' Market, in front of the Ace Hardware store in the town center. Organized by Sandy Curlee for the Locust Town Center Business Association, it's open noon-6 p.m. Thursdays. Curlee said lots of folks come every week to shop and visit with neighbors.

At the market in Locust, vendors sell baked goods, fresh flowers, homemade soaps, plants, barbecue sauce and, of course, fresh vegetables and produce.

I chatted with Karen Mical, who has been selling baked goods for the first time this year at the Locust Farmers' Market. For years, she said, everyone in her Locust neighborhood has been enjoying her baked goods and telling her she should bake for a living.

Since she has always loved baking, she decided this year to try her hand at selling what she makes. Now she spends every Wednesday baking pies, cakes, cookies and homemade mints to take to the market on Thursdays.

Mical is thrilled when customers tell her one of her pies or cakes triggers a memory of a loved one, such as when someone says, "This tastes just like the pound cake my grandmother used to make!" Mical changes her assortment of baked goods each week; she likes to give her customers an opportunity to sample lots of her treats.

Local stands and markets really are the source for lots of wonderful things. It may sound cliché, but you can't go wrong when you shop locally and support our local farmers.