Ten Good Reasons to Shop at Local Farmers’ Markets

 

Nutrition Spotlight

By Dina Lawson     

1.    Taste Real Flavors!

 The fruits and vegetables you buy at the farmers market are the freshest and tastiest available. Fruits are allowed to ripen in the field and brought directly to you — no long-distance shipping, no gassing to simulate the ripening process, no sitting for weeks in storage. This food is as real as it gets — food fresh from the farm!

2.    Enjoy the Season

The food you buy at the farmers market is seasonal. It is fresh and delicious and tastes like the true flavor of the food. Shopping and cooking from the farmers market helps you to reconnect with the environment and nature in our region. As you look forward to strawberries in spring, sweet corn in the summer, and pumpkins in autumn, you reconnect with the earth, the weather, and the changing of seasons.

 3.     Support Family Farmers!

 Family farmers are becoming increasingly rare as large business farms take over food production in the U.S. Small family farms have a hard time competing. Buying directly from farmers gives them a better return for their produce and gives them a fighting chance in today’s globalized economy.

4.     Protect the Environment!

 Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1500 miles to get to your plate. All this shipping uses large amounts of natural resources (especially fossil fuels), contributes greatly to pollution and creates excess trash with extra packaging.   Food at the farmers market is transported shorter distances and grown using methods that minimize the impact on the earth.

5.     Nourish Yourself! 

Much food found in grocery stores is highly processed. The fresh produce you do find is often grown using pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and genetic modification.   Most food found at the farmers market is minimally processed, and many of our farmers go to great lengths to grow the most nutritious produce possible.   These healthy foods are then passed on to you!

6.     Discover that the Spice of Life is Variety!

At the Farmers Market you find a wide array of produce that you don’t see in your supermarket: red carrots, a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, white peaches, green garlic, watermelon, radishes, and a variety of mushrooms, beans, and much, much more. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience first-hand the diversity of our region.

7.     Promote Humane Treatment of Animals

At the farmers market, you can find meats, cheeses, and eggs from animals that have been raised without hormones or antibiotics, who have grazed on green grass and been fed natural diets.

8.     Know Where Your Food Comes From

A regular trip to a farmers market is one of the best ways to reconnect with where your food comes from. Farmers themselves sell their produce at the farm stands. Meeting and talking to farmers is a great opportunity to learn more about how food is grown, where it is grown, when it is grown, and why!

Dina Lawson9.     Learn Cooking Tips, Recipes, and Meal Ideas

Few grocery store cashiers or produce stockers will give you tips on how to cook the ingredients you buy, but farmers, ranchers, and vendors at the farmers market are often knowledgeable cooks with plenty of free advice about how to cook the foods they are selling. They’ll give you ideas on what to have for supper and even hand out their own recipes.

10.      Connect with Your Community

Wouldn’t you rather stroll amidst outdoor displays of fresh produce rather than roll your cart around a grocery store with artificial lights?  Coming to the Farmers Market makes shopping a pleasure. The Farmers Market is a community gathering place — a place to meet up with your friends, bring your children, socialize or just enjoy small-town life away from the big city.

Source:  The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture.

 

Colorful Coleslaw

Ingredients:

 3 cups cabbage, shredded

3 medium carrots, peeled and shredded

1 cup green pepper, chopped

1/2 small onion, chopped

1/4 cup low-fat milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, if desired

1/8 teaspoon salt, if desired

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrots, green pepper and onion. Gently toss ingredients together. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine milk, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, pepper and salt (if desired). Add to cabbage mixture. Mix well.
  3. Chill before serving.

 Yields about 6 servings

Source: Cornell University Cooperative Extension – New York City Nutrition & Health Programs Recipe Collection.

Dina Lawson is a Registered Dietitian for the Madison County Office for the Aging.   

 

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