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 8, 2014

Summer is almost here and if you haven't visited your local farmers market yet, you should.

According to a national survey of chefs, a major trend for 2014 is local food — local meats and produce, "hyper-local" ingredients grown in your own garden, and farm or estate branded items.

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.

At my local farmers market this past weekend, I found spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, spring onions, bell peppers, herbs and the first of the season's beets. 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:

  • Roasted red peppers topped with chopped green onions, goat cheese, shreds of basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • Grilled chicken with fresh tarragon, and grilled cauliflower and broccoli
  • Leftover chicken sandwich on  whole-grain bread, chilled cooked beets

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, go to your local farmers market and get inspired to eat healthy.

- Jennifer

Jul. 08, 2014