New York Hospital Dietician Discusses Navigating A Farmer’s Market

Posted on: July 16, 2013

Relive the Past and Buy From A Farmer

Farmer’s Market Week – August 4th-10th

Summer is here and so is the celebration of National Farmer’s Market Week! Eating locally and seasonally is good for you and your environment because you’re ensuring fresh, healthy and wholesome ingredients.  Food items at farmer’s markets don’t require excess packaging, extended shelf time or transport, which can affect nutrient quality.  Let’s face it; nothing tastes better than fresh fruits and veggies!! Plus, research shows diets rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent heart disease, stroke, obesity and some types of cancer.

5 Tips for Buying at Farmers’ Markets

Before you grab your own re-useable tote and run off to the nearest market, keep these tips in mind to make the most of your shopping experience:

 #1 Do Your Research

It’s important to understand which types of fruits and veggies are in season in your area.  You shouldn’t be finding any “fresh” cranberries in June!  Also, inspect items for freshness, such as observing their texture and color.

#2 Ask Questions

Farmers are the experts when it comes to growing their own produce, so ask about their growing philosophy.  A few questions to consider:

  1. Where is your farm located?
  2. How do you avoid contamination?  Do you use pesticides?
  3. Is your produce certified organic and if not, why?

It’s also appropriate to ask about storage and recommendations on preparing a specific item if you’ve never cooked with it before.

#3 Take a Lap

I always check out the area before committing to a specific vendor.  It’s helpful to note your surroundings and see what items are being sold so you can compare prices and quality.  Note: most farmers’ markets are cash-only, so be sure to bring small bills for easy and convenient cash exchange.

#4 Wash, Wash Again

Produce, no matter where you purchase, must be thoroughly washed before preparing and consuming.  All produce is susceptible to bugs, dirt and bacteria!  Most fruits and veggies can be rubbed gently under cold water.  For salad greens, it’s best to soak in bowl of water to gently remove dirt and other particles without damaging.

#5 Have Fun

I know it’s traditional to have a set grocery list, but be prepared to get creative at farmers’ markets!! You may find items you’ve never tried before and want to incorporate into new recipes.  It’s smarter to buy whatever looks good and then plan your meals around what you buy.  Trying new things is part of the whole experience!

To find a market near you, ask your neighbors, friends, and colleagues, or search for one in USDA’s Farmers Market Directory, or at LocalHarvest.org and EatWellGuide.org.

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