Nutrition-wise blog

Farmers market: A healthy way to buy local

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. July 9, 2013

Summer is in full swing and if you haven't visited your local farmers market, you should.

When you buy into the "buy local" movement, you're supporting farmers in your community and your local economy. It's also an opportunity to go green and refresh your healthy eating habits. Here are some tips to get you started.

Finding your local farmers market is as easy as typing "farmers market" into a search engine. Markets are often held in city parks or local parking lots. You might be able to go to nearby farmers who sell their products or let you pick your own produce.

Another option is joining a community supported agriculture (CSA) group and receiving weekly deliveries of produce from local farmers. Want an even easier way to buy local? Next time you visit the grocery store, ask if they feature local produce — and work that into your purchases.

When you visit a farm, farmers market or even a roadside produce stand, you'll find fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, poultry, meat, cheeses, eggs, syrups, honey, and even flowers and handmade soaps. You don't have to buy — but I bet you will.

Scope out the products and then plan your meals. At my local farmers market this past weekend, I found salad greens (leaf lettuce, spinach, romaine), spring onions, herbs and and the first of the season's tomatoes. I also picked up a free-range chicken, some eggs and goat cheese. We have a local baker too — so I got some great whole-grain bread.

Using the items I bought at the farmers market, I plan to make the following meals this week:

  • Salad topped with sauteed spring onions, grape tomatoes and goat cheese
  • Grilled chicken with fresh tarragon and wilted spinach
  • Stuffed tomatoes, leftover chicken and whole-grain bread

Using local foods inspires me to prepare healthy, plant-based meals that are low in calories and high in nutrients. I also feel good about supporting people in our community who make their living on the land. It's a win-win. We eat healthier and help our local farmers, economy and environment.

So if you can't garden or don't like getting your hands dirty, get to your local farmers market and get inspired to eat healthy.

- Jennifer

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Jul. 09, 2013