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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Fabulous Farmers’ Markets Make Healthy Eating Easy and Fun

ThinkstockPhotos-460495043One of my favorite things to do once it is summer in Indiana is to visit the various farmers’ markets around town. As a dietitian I am a sucker for the fresh fruits and veggies, but I also love the homemade desserts, candles, pasta, kettle corn, fresh flowers, and other wonderful items you can find.

Here are my top five reasons why visiting your local farmers’ market is a must.

  1. Support for the local community: Since the produce is grown and purchased locally, the money remains in the community and stimulates the local economy. Also, when you shop at the farmers’ market, you are cutting out the middle man, and the product is generally less expensive than if you purchased it in the grocery store. 
  2. Eating foods that are in season: Farmers’ market produce is picked ripe and sold soon after picking. Supermarket produce, on the other hand, can take up to two weeks to travel from the farm to the store, even when it is in season. The produce tastes richer and more flavorful, and the nutrients are better retained. Check out the downtown City Market website for which products are available during the months the market is open.
  3. Healthy eating is good for you: The average American eats 4.4 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, as opposed to the current recommendations of 9 servings per day. Picking up multiple servings of fruits and veggies and incorporating them into recipes, meals, and snacks is a great way to get closer to the 9-serving-per-day-goal. This will guarantee you are meeting your recommended vitamin and mineral requirements, increasing your daily fiber intake, and acquiring cancer-fighting antioxidants, too. Locally grown produce is lower in pesticides and chemicals, also. 
  4. You can talk to the farmers who grew the food you are about to eat: You can meet the farmers who grew your food, ask when it was picked, how it was grown, and ways to prepare it. When else do you get the opportunity to learn so much about what you are putting in your mouth?
  5. There is certain to be one that fits your location and schedule: I love being able to go to the City Market farmers’ market on my lunch break downtown and sample the hot, fresh kettle corn; pick up sweet corn; and get homemade cookies on Wednesday afternoons. Saturday mornings, it’s off to the Carmel farmers’ market to purchase a walking waffle, homemade pasta, and a whole assortment of fruits and veggies for the week. To find out the location of a farmers’ market close to you, check out the USDA website.

Whether you are picking up items for dinner or for the whole week, the local farmers’ market is an inexpensive, healthy alternative to the grocery store. Try to get there early to get the best variety and options. Not all vendors accept credit cards, so be sure to have cash on hand. Finally, bring along your own reusable grocery bag to put all of your goodies in so that it is easier to carry home your fresh, delicious finds.

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This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy habits healthy eating summer clean eating organic foods

Should You Be Buying Organic Fruits and Vegetables?

ThinkstockPhotos-86533186This is always a hot topic and a debate that many people have strong opinions about: should I be buying organic produce? Unfortunately, I don’t have the definite answer for you, either. What I can do is give you some facts and let you decide whether buying organic foods is right for you and your family.

  • Organic produce does not have more vitamins and minerals than non-organic produce. 
  • Organics have a 30% lower risk of pesticide residue than non-organic produce.
  • Organic produce typically costs three times the amount that conventional produce costs.
  • Purchasing fruits and vegetables from the local farmer’s market is an option for getting more cost-effective organic foods.
  • Small amounts of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during fetal development and childhood. 
Pesticide Residue Rankings

Still confused? Each year the Environmental Working Group identifies foods that have the highest and lowest pesticide residues. Here is a list in order, starting with the highest level of pesticide from 2015:

  1. Apples
  2. Peaches
  3. Nectarines
  4. Strawberries
  5. Grapes
  6. Celery
  7. Spinach
  8. Bell peppers
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry tomatoes
  11. Imported sugar snap peas
  12. Potatoes
  13. Hot peppers
  14. Kale/collard greens

Here is a list of foods that are least likely to contain contaminants:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Frozen peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Sweet potatoes

When glancing at these two lists, you can see that items on the first list all have edible skins, whereas the skins of the majority of foods on the second list are discarded. 

Ways to Reduce Pesticide Residues

Thoroughly washing produce is one way to guarantee you are washing away remaining pesticide residues (pesticides absorbed through roots can’t be washed off, however). Peeling the skins off fruit is another way to decrease the amount of residue; however, you lose nutrients when you throw out the skin. 

Take all of this information into account when deciding between organics and non-organics, and then make the choice that best fits your beliefs and budget!

This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Like what you've just read? Click here to subscribe to our blog!

Topics: healthy eating disease prevention clean eating organic foods