Farmers Market

Farmers Market

Farmers Market season is here, and with it a window of opportunity to get the freshest, tastiest produce of the entire year. Here’s how to take advantage of this golden opportunity to improve your health, support your neighbors, and expand your culinary horizons (and why you should):

Benefits of a plant-based diet:

There are many variations on a healthy diet; but most experts agree that eating more plants is an excellent idea. Fruits and vegetables deliver important vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, B and D. They are usually low in fat and calories, and more easily processed by the body. And when you’re consuming locally grown produce you also get an added benefit: they don’t cause as much damage to the environment, because they don’t have to be transported long distances to get to your table.

How many fruits and veggies do you need?

The Center for Disease Control says people should eat approximately 1 1/2-2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables every day. A 2015 study found that only one in 10 Americans meets this requirement. Poor nutrition puts people at risk for all kinds of chronic illnesses, as well as heart disease, low energy, digestive problems, irritability, and weight gain.

Keeping fruits and veggies fresh:

When you find amazing local produce, it’s tempting to buy more than you need, but try to be conscientious and purchase only what you plan to use. In your kitchen or refrigerator, keep fruits and vegetables separate, because they can actually cause each other to rot more quickly. Produce that does not need to be refrigerated includes avocados, tomatoes, stone fruit (like peaches, apricots, etc.), melons, onions, and bananas. Store lettuce in a bowl or container with a paper towel to soak up excess moisture. Carrots, on the other hand, can actually be stored in water to keep them from drying out. Rinse fresh berries in water with a little vinegar to clean them and help them to stay fresh longer. If you only need half an avocado, sprinkle the other half with lemon juice to keep it from going bad.

Stocking up:

Some fruits and veggies can be frozen with little to no preparation, to be enjoyed months later. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries freeze well; and with a little prep you can also freeze peaches, nectarines and apricots. Most vegetables should be blanched briefly in boiling water before being packed and frozen. Use good quality freezer bags and containers to keep your produce fresh.