Between the brightly colored carrots and the plump tomatoes at the local farmers market sit white root vegetables and leafy greens you know aren’t lettuce.
Or maybe you recognize them as parsnips and kale, but you don’t know how to prepare them.
Don’t miss out on the health benefits of eating fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies because they’re unfamiliar.
Knowing what’s in season and a few basic tips for picking fresh produce can help when you’re at the farmers market, said Linda Daubner, a registered dietitian at Flambeau Hospital and founding member of the Park Falls farmers market.
Some farmers markets offer recipes and cooking demonstrations, she said. If yours doesn’t, ask vendors how they like to dish up the food they’re selling or get ideas from a farmers market cookbook.
Fresh picks at the farmers market
Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to thump a melon or sniff out fresh fruit.
Most farmers market produce is freshly picked and ready to eat or prepare, Daubner said.
“Vendors take pride in what they’ve grown and wouldn’t present something of poor quality,” she said.
If you’re still unsure what to pick, use these guidelines for selecting produce:
- Avoid produce that appears bruised.
- Choose firm, even-colored fruits and vegetables.
- Leafy greens should be crisp and consistently colored.
- Ask the vendor what to look for in specific fruits or vegetables.
Why shop at the farmers market?
If you want to add more fruits and veggies to your diet, the farmers market is the place to be.
People report eating more produce when they shop at farmers markets, Daubner said.
“Adding more fruits and vegetables has many health benefits, including reducing the risk for many types of cancer,” she said. “Vegetables are high in nutrition and low in calories, making them ideal for anyone who wants to maintain a healthy weight.”
Besides improving your health, frequenting the farmers market improves the health of the local economy by supporting farmers.
To find a farmers market near you, visit the Wisconsin Farmers Market Association website.
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