The best thing about the summer for nutrition is the farmer’s market! I love waking up on Saturday, iced coffee in hand, and heading the farmers market to see the latest, most beautiful produce nature has to offer. Here are my tips to making your farmer’s market trip most successful…
Why have you done a good thing?
Farmer’s markets are right-to-the-source in terms of nutrition. The fresher you eat produce from the time it was picked, the higher in vitamins and minerals the fruit or vegetable will be. The reason? The second a fruit or vegetable is picked, it starts to die, and the nutrients die along with it. So eating local by shopping at farmer’s markets ensures that you are getting the best BANG for your BITE! You are also doing your part to reduce energy consumption, as the produce does not have to travel as far. In terms of meat and dairy products, at a farmer’s market you will be purchasing more grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free products that have been fed and raised appropriately. Eggs at the market, in particular, as also incredibly high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for good heart health and reducing inflammation.
How to make your farmer’s market trip successful…
It’s always a surprise what is going to be freshest and most delicious at the market on any given morning. Here are Your Secret Ingredient 5 steps to a productive market shop:
1) Know your seasons. Take time to understand what is in season at the market at any given season. Right now, expect to see lots of greens, berries, onions, scallions, beets, and in some places, corn is starting! Here is a guide to seasonal eating in NY.
2) Plan out your recipes before you go. IF you have some idea of what you want to make for the week before you shop, you will shop with purpose. Have 3 recipes in mind for your week of dinners, and have a list with the products you need. Supplement with fresh fruits and veggies to snack on and have for breakfast and lunch. Having a plan with prevent overbuying and subsequent waste.
3) Go early and have bags. The produce is there when the market opens. The frequent market goers know to go early and try to get the first crop, before the summer heat has had time to wilt the produce. Bring reusable shopping bags to carry all your produce.
4) Buy what looks freshest. If you get to the market and don’t see what you hoped for, see what looks best and more delicious! Use your senses, sight, smell, touch, to pick the perfect produce and be creative with your recipes.
5) Prep when you get home. Take time to wash, clean, and prep your vegetables when you get home from the market. This will help to save you time during the week and keep you organized.
Enjoy your local farmers market. Check out these maps and websites to find one near you!
--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN