From spring’s asparagus to fall’s butternut squash, farmers markets and backyard gardens are chock-full of nutritious foods.
Doctors have long recommended plenty of produce in a variety of colors as a key part of a healthy diet. One way to achieve that goal: Eat what’s in season.
With it in season, farmers markets are everywhere in the region, making obtaining produce for your meals even easier.
Freshness is what makes farmers markets so attractive. Most of the food you’ll find there has been picked at the peak of its freshness and flavor. If you like peaches from the grocery store, you’re going to love peaches from the farmers market.
Visiting a farmers market will give you the resources you need to maintain a healthy diet with a variety of nutrients. To get a good, nutritious variety, choose colorful foods such as orange carrots, green kale and red beets. Don’t be afraid to try new items. “Most adults should try and get in two cups of fruit a day and two to three cups of vegetables,” says Nancy Kunkel, a dietitian with Kettering Health Network’s Diabetes & Nutrition Centers.
Different kinds of produce also offer different vitamins and minerals. For example, the following foods are good sources of nutrients:
- Artichokes, beans and lentils—fiber
- Spinach and asparagus—folate
- Sweet potatoes, white potatoes and bananas—potassium
- Apricots, carrots, grapefruit and tomatoes—vitamin A
- Broccoli, strawberries, cauliflower and cantaloupe—vitamin C
When possible, foods, not supplements, are the best source of these nutrients. That’s because produce is packed with other naturally occurring substances that are good for you.
With this in mind, you’re ready to head to the farmers market and bring some of the plentiful produce waiting for you to your table. Here are some tips for getting the most from your trip.
Go early. You may not need to be among the first arrivals for a weekday market, but weekend markets get busy fast. If you arrive too late, the best pickings may be gone.
Bring cash and reusable bags. Transactions will go easier if you have a pocket of small bills. Plus, you need sturdy bags to carry your items home.
Talk to the vendors. The sellers want to talk about their fruits, veggies, jellies and jams. Ask for buying and storing tips. They can often give you recipe ideas too.
For more information or to address specific dietary needs, Kunkel recommends visiting myplate.gov or oldways.org as a source of information and guidelines for what foods people should be eating. Myplate.gov includes sound, up-to-date research that shows the link between eating a diet that’s colorful and the reduction of chronic disease incidents.
Local farmers markets you may want to check out: