Farm Market Mania
Friday, June 02, 2017
The first crops of the season are sprouting up all over upstate NY. Fresh lettuce, spinach, peas, garlic scapes, and more can be found at roadside stands and farm markets. These local delicacies are sweet, crisp, and chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients. The taste cannot be beat and the price is often below super market numbers.
Nutrition.gov lists these top 10 reasons for visiting farm markets this season:
1. Freshly picked, in season produce is at its peak in flavor and nutrition. Produce in most grocery stores has traveled an average of 1500 to 2500 miles to get there. Every hour that food sits after harvest, it loses nutrients and flavor. When you buy local, the produce is often picked the same day, which means it is fresher, crisper, and better for you.
2. Support your local farmers and economy.
You can help new and smaller farmers be successful and save farmland in your area. Furthermore, you are supporting your local economy and neighbors.
3. Fresh fruit and vegetables are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Phytonutrients are naturally occurring plant chemicals that keep plants healthy and disease free. Those same plant chemicals help humans ward off disease and boost immune systems.
4. It's a great way to get your kids involved.
Farm markets are nature’s classroom. The littlest ones can learn colors and quantities. Preschoolers and school-age kiddos can learn veggie and fruit names as well as how to pick out fresh, ripe produce. Once you are home, involve the children in washing, cutting up, and preparing the food. When children are involved in the food preparation process, they are more likely to eat the meal!
5. Supporting your local farmers market strengthens your community.
Meet your local farmers; learn about foods grown in your area and catch up with friends and neighbors while stocking up with local goods. According to a 2012 Psychology Today web article, hanging out with peeps in your own community fosters a sense of well-being and belonging. Farm markets are community-meeting places. Stop by one, you are bound to run into someone you know.
6. Farmers markets offer foods that align with MyPlate guidelines.
Visit ChooseMyPlate.gov and buy foods to fit the daily intake recommendations for veggies, fruits, protein, and carbs. Visit different booths to pick up seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as local dairy, grain and protein products so you can build your healthy plate.
7. Farmers often have recommendations for preparing their products. Chat it up with the local vendors and get their ideas for preparing their produce and products.
8. You can try a new fruit or vegetable!
Have you ever tasted gooseberries, ground cherries, or garlic scapes? Many farmers markets offer lesser known fruits and vegetables, providing a variety that can be both tasty and nutritious.
9. SNAP and WIC benefits are accepted at some farmers markets.
10. Farmers markets are easy to find.
Go to: http://www.fingerlakeswest.com/eat/farm-markets to find a listing of Livingston County Farm Markets. In addition, keep your eyes open for local roadside stands.
Lorraine Wichtowski is community health educator at URMC Noyes Health in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, contact Lorraine at email@example.com or 585-335-4327.