Summer is the perfect time to explore your local farmers market with all of summer’s bounty on display. There is something for everyone! If you aren’t sure where to start at the market or even where to find a farmers market then read on. Besides having the opportunity to explore what produce is in season and grown locally, farmers markets are great places to learn about food, gather new recipes, and introduce the whole family to a more whole food-based diet.
- Eat local and seasonal to reduce the cost of produce. Although it may seem like farmers markets are more expensive it doesn’t have to be if you shop for what’s in season. Buying seasonal produce allows you to enjoy different varieties of fruits and vegetables at their peak ripeness and freshness. Many markets and vendors accept SNAP funds and WIC coupons making it easier for everyone to enjoy local seasonal fare. The USDA provides a great list for what produce is in season so you know what to look for to get the best deal.
- Now that you have bought all this great produce don’t let it go to waste! Build a healthy plate by making sure that half your plate (or bowl) is filled with fruits and veggies. A good way to think about this is to include 2-3 vegetables or fruits in your meal. You’ll have a nutrient dense meal, a colorful plate, and be that much closer to your fiber goal for the day.
- Try a new produce item next time you are at the market. If you are like me, you eye the crazy-looking squash and green vegetables at some stands and wonder, “What the heck is that?” And then promptly cruise by to a different produce that you confidently know its name. Challenge yourself and try something new. I recently tried (and loved!) spigariello greens, aka broccoli greens. They were stacked next to the kale and chard at one stall and I was feeling adventuresome. I now have a new green to add to my weekly repertoire. If you want to know what spigariello greens look like as well as a few recipe ideas check out this link from Mariquita Farms.
- Try other local wares. If you are looking for some quick weeknight meals and want to avoid take out you can explore what other vendors are selling at the farmers market. In some markets you can find homemade soup, pastas, legume and grain salads, pizzas, or a variety of dips and spreads. Easy weeknight meals made with local and healthy ingredients.
The USDA makes it easy to find your local market on this page so you can begin to enjoy all that summer has to offer! If you haven’t been to a market in awhile I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the variety of produce and other foods available to you.