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National Nutrition Month

Why Buy from a local Farmers Market?

Each year, March is designated as National Nutrition Month. This year’s motto for National Nutrition Month 2018 is “Go Further With food.” This means making our best effort to achieve the numerous benefits of healthy eating habits, choose the right foods and help reduce food waste. Since March 20th was the First Day of Spring, why not honor of these two events by combining a fresh breath of Spring air with a taste of the freshest fruits and vegetables available? A trip to the closest Farmers Market is just the ticket for getting outdoors to enjoy the Spring air and see what yummy nutritional goodness the season has to offer.

A Visit to the Farmers Market

Lucky for us, living near the Farmers market makes it easy to enjoy the freshest fruits and vegetables available.  We all know that it’s downright fun to browse from one booth to the next, talking with the farmers to learn about their methods and harvests. There are plenty of other strong reasons to shop for produce at the Farmers Market. Here are 10 of them!

  • It’s fresh from the farm: It takes several days for fruits and vegetables to make their way to the grocery stores. From the farm to the refrigerated truck, then a warehouse potentially hundreds of miles away, produce loses its freshness – and flavor – one mile at a time. Then it’s stored and handled by a variety of workers, which can cause additional bruising and more flavor-busting delays. At a farmers market, in many cases, the produce is picked that very morning, as fresh as it can possibly be without growing it in your own backyard!
  • No GMOs or pesky pesticides: Farmers who sell produce at the markets often use organic means to grow their harvests. When a fruit or vegetable is labeled organic and the farmer is there to confirm how it’s grown (many of them love to tell the story, just ask!), you can be sure that your food will be free of chemicals. Also, local farmers are more likely to steer clear of GMOs. Better for you nutritionally all the way around!
  • Seasonally Fresh Food: Food is tastiest when it’s in season; and eating what’s available according to the season is much easier at Farmers Market. If it’s in the produce stand, fresh-picked this morning, then it’s in season. Eating lighter fruits and veggies in the summer, like peas and strawberries, makes sense in the hot months. But when the weather turns cool, hearty squashes are more sustaining. Besides, it’s the way our ancestors ate.
  • The peak of Ripeness: Freshly picked produce, when ripeness is at its peak, provides superior nutrition and taste.
  • Nutritional value: Because it’s National Nutrition Month, right? When browsing through the stands at the Farmers Market, one will stand in amazement at the vibrant colors of the fruits and vegetables on display. A more vivid color means the produce is jam-packed with nutrients. Local farmers take extra measures in their farming methods to enhance nutritional value, so rest assured that the best nutrition comes along with fresh, locally-sourced food.
  • Makes prepared meals taste better: Any professional chef will say “Your recipe is only as good as the ingredients, so always use the freshest ingredients possible.” It makes sense that your prepared meals will be more delicious if ingredients are straight-from-the-farmers-market.
  • Support local farmers and the local economy: Buying local helps local farmers keep providing sustainable, fresh food for the families in your own community. It helps them provide for their own families too!
  • Affordable: Grocery stores have a high upcharge for organic produce. Not so at a farmers market, as they are able to offer organic quality at close to the same price as store-bought conventional methods. The benefits to one’s health more than makes up for the nominal extra expense. Considering the value of knowing your food is better for you as well as more delicious, it’s a no-brainer.
  • Everything under the sun: Even when shopping seasonal, the Farmers Market has a delightful array of fruits and vegetables. Hard to find items like assortments of baby veggies are thoughtfully grown by local farmers who know that rare finds are highly sought after and will sell out quickly. For the sheer variety, and the ability to sample recipes and food straight off the vine, the Farmers Market experience can’t be beaten!
  • It’s fun: Yes, it’s just a whole lot of fun. Take a group of friends along, enjoy the events and the live music that is frequently heard. Try a healthy cooking class, dawdle over which fresh ingredients should go into your protein smoothies for the week, savor the spring air, and get some exercise while strolling from aisle to aisle.

Extra Treat: What’s in season for April at Texas Farmer’s Markets?

According to TexasFarmersMarket.org, April brings a whole slew (or stew?) of fresh fruits and veggies to introduce into our diets. See the list below, and then visit gotexan.org to download this year-round Texas Produce Availability Chart.

April’s Freshest Produce:

Strawberries, Blackberries, Beets and Radishes (try this delicious beet and radish snack recipe!), Turnips, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Carrots, Baby Arugula, Greens, Lettuces, Sweet Corn, Green Beans, Specialty Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Leeks, Fennel, Cilantro, Parsley, Culinary Herbs, Tomatoes (Hot House)