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