If you’ve ever been to a farmers’ market, you understand my desire to guide others to their local market. Maybe it’s the colors of all the produce that seem to go on forever, the smiling faces of the farmers who spent months laboring over their crops, or the friendly atmosphere of the community coming together. But not only does the serene vibe provide an escape — a chance to get out in the fresh air — it is an opportunity to make healthy choices.
The produce at the farmers’ market is extensive. Most of the time I end up asking what some of the foods are mainly because they look like they came from outer space. Still, I have never been disappointed by trying a new fruit or vegetable. The farmers market is the place to discover the magnificence that is rhubarb and gooseberries. Picked at the peak of the growing season, each product contains high amounts of pytonutrients and antioxidants, both nutrients needed to sustain a healthy immune system and regulate inflammation. And more often than not, all of the produce is organically grown. No pesticides for fruits and veggies.
It can be tricky at first to maneuver the market since there are so many tents and stands with vibrant signs saying “Laughing Cow Farm” or “Paula’s Peak Produce,” but don’t get scared away. Choose one stand to buy a couple particular items and another to buy the other items on your list. This way you get to socialize with more than one vendor, and when you come back, you can decide which stand fits your needs and your taste palate. Don’t worry too much about the cost difference of produce from one stand to the next. Farmers tend to keep their prices relatively similar, and just think–the money you spend at the market directly supports local farmers in the community. It’s a win-win situation.
Whether you bought fresh cheeses, bread, meat, or produce, each item you brought home can be turned into a healthy snack or meal. Often, all it takes to come up with a recipe idea is talking to farmers who know their product best. They know how to bring out their flavor of their foods and how to best combine them. But make sure you’re leaving out the Crisco and other high fat ingredients when cooking! It may seem hard to actually enjoy all vegetables, but I promise that just a few tips and tricks can help to incorporate the recommended veggies into your diet. (There’s even a whole web page dedicated to recipes by local vendors of the Carborro Farmers’ market.
If you’re looking for a market in your area, it’s as easy as Googling “local farmers market in (insert city here).” Nine times out of ten an extensive list will pop up with roadside stands, small, and large farmers markets within a 30 mile radius. While it’s still warm, grab a friend and a reusable bag. Walking to, from, and around the market gets your metabolism churning, the calories burning, and appetite revved up. You’ll be ready to munch on some fresh produce that will keep your body happy and healthy while enjoying all the other benefits of a truly re-market-able experience.