THE BRONX - Elected officials in the borough say farmers markets are a key weapon in the city?s fight against both hunger and obesity.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and other officials toured a market at the New York Botanical Garden, and they encouraged residents to do the same. The politicians sampled produce at the stands before purchasing some of the available fresh vegetables.

Quinn says opening more markets and allowing them to accept food stamps would help curb hunger and obesity while boosting support for local merchants. An ad campaign advocating the use of farmers markets is underway, according to Quinn.

Shoppers and merchants say food at the market is not only low-priced, but also fresher than most other options.

City funding for farmers markets initiatives was increased this year to $295,000.