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Pa. Turnpike plazas offer healthy alternatives for travelers

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published On: May 14 2012 05:45:25 PM CDT
Updated On: May 14 2012 05:46:57 PM CDT

If you're driving long distances, your choices for snacks usually consist of fast food and bags of chips.

UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. -

If you're driving long distances, your choices for snacks usually consist of fast food and bags of chips, but travelers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike now have some options.

The Allentown Service Plaza on the turnpike's Northeast Extension in Upper Macungie Twp., Lehigh Co., gets a lot of foot traffic. Thousands of people make a stop there daily.

"I was in Philadelphia for the weekend. I'm going back home," said Christ Welch, of Hancock, N.Y.

"It's about two hours from here," said Fred Jackson, heading to Susquehanna.

Most folks stop at the rest area to take a break or grab a quick bite to eat, but many of them do not expect to see a farmers market right next door.

"It was a nice surprise, yes," smiled Welch. "Rather than get something awful in there, I got something healthy in here."

"We actually parked right over there, and we saw the flowers from afar, so we decided to come and look at them," explained Michelle Molina, whose family stopped on its way to Rochester, N.Y.

The fruits, vegetables and flowers are grown at nearby Haas Produce, a fourth generation farm, and everything you can buy is grown in Pennsylvania.

"Right now, we're selling lettuce, peas, onions. Strawberries just came in. We'll be selling blueberries, raspberries," said Michelle Haas.

The farm stand has been here about 18 years. Haas said people are usually shocked to discover them, but always come back for more.

"It's just a nice thing. You don't need to go looking around the towns," said Jackson. "It's easy. It's convenient. You look good going home."

"I think the fruits and the vegetables is definitely a good thing because it's a healthy alternative for snacking on the way," said Molina. "You know, for the kids, the strawberries in the car would be much better than eating any chocolate or candy or anything like that."

"It's always better to support the local farmers, too," added Welch.

Right now, the farmers market is open only on the weekends, but from June to November, you can check it out Fridays through Mondays.