Make the Most of Your Trip to the Farmers Market

Expert advice on what to buy and how to eat it

Fresh Local Produce on counter top

Shopping for at least some of your food every week at a farmers market is a great way to support rural and urban farming communities, and to reap the nutritional benefits and delicious flavor of freshly harvested food.

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At many farmers markets, you can buy produce that has been raised without pesticides or beef from grass-fed cows or eggs produced by free-range hens – often from the very folks who grew them.

Buying locally grown food in season will benefit your family’s health, the environment and our economy. So what’s not to love? Here’s info that can help you make the most of your trip to the farmers market.

Tips for shopping at the farmers market

Never been to a farmers market? You are in for a treat. So much to see, do, taste and smell! But there’s some things to know that can make your experience great. For example, make sure you bring your own bags and a light cooler for things that need to stay out of the sun. Aside from fresh produce, other great finds can include freshly picked herbs, homemade salsa and infused olive oil and freshly made whole-wheat pasta. Also look for cheese from grass-fed cows or newly laid eggs. You’ll be surprised at the difference in taste.

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Fresh-picked gives you highest nutrition

When you venture out to the farmers market, you get more than just delicious, fresh foods. You also get health-boosting, disease-fighting nutrients. That’s because fruits and vegetables don’t perish the moment they are picked. They continue to take in oxygen, break down starches and sugars and release carbon dioxide. The produce at a farmers market has been picked right before being set out for sale, meaning more nutritional benefit for you and your family.

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Choose apples for fiber

You will probably see apples at the farmers market. Apples are a nutrition powerhouse. If you eat the skin, an apple can provide 5 grams of fiber, which is 20 percent of the daily recommended amount. Apples at the farmers market often are freshly picked, which preserves the nutrients and gives you the best flavor possible.

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Pick colorful lettuce for the best nutritional benefit

You might think that lettuce is not worth bothering with nutritionally. But incorporating lettuce into your meals can be a great way to add nutrients and water to your diet. Furthermore, the fiber in lettuce helps to fill you up, and it does so at just 20 calories per serving. Crisp, crunchy lettuce also can be an easy way to get in the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. One cup of raw salad greens, such as hearts of romaine or bibb lettuce, counts as a serving of vegetables.

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Cucumbers aren’t just for salads

We are used to seeing slices of lemon in the glasses of water that are served in restaurants. But have you ever thought of adding cucumber slices to your H2O? Cucumbers add a fresh, light flavor to chilled water. The vegetable also is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. Wash the cucumber, cut it into thin slices and add a few pieces to your water.

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Beets for good blood pressure

You may find beets at the farmers market and in your community-supported agriculture shares. Beets are a great source of healthful, naturally occurring nitrates, which may help to support healthy blood pressure.  And all parts of the plant are edible, from the leafy stems — which can be sautéed like spinach — to the deep reddish-purple bulbous root. While the purplish variety of beets is the most common, if your farmers’ market carries more exotic varieties, such as golden beets, give them a try.

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