Raspberries, tomatoes, squash … oh my!
Summertime is the perfect time to get some ripe, nutritious produce at your local farmers market. Fortunately, they’re everywhere these days, whether you’re in the city, suburbs or the countryside.
From late spring until late fall, you can find growers wanting to sell their produce and other goods including baked goods, jams and jellies, maple products, honey, farmstead cheeses, flowers, turkey products, eggs and more.
There are plenty of reasons to shop a farmers market – where growers sell directly to consumers instead of a third party such as a grocery story supplier.
Farmers markets have grown in the last few years, and the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center estimates $1 billion in annual sales for these stands.
When you shop at a farmers market, you’re not only supporting small growers, but you’re also getting fresh produce that hasn’t spent much time traveling and therefore may have more nutrients. Shopping a farmers market also gives you the chance to eat seasonally, when foods are at their peak with the best flavors and chock full of nutrients.
“It’s great idea to make the farmers market a regular part of your week,” said Gillian Arathuzik, a registered dietitian at Lahey Outpatient Center, Danvers. “The fresh food you will find will depend on what time of the summer it is because when foods peak they’re done.”
You can start the season off with strawberries and various leafy lettuces. Then as the summer progresses look for squash and zucchini. Finally, tomatoes and other root veggies are great in the fall. There are, of course, many more options available.
“There are so many great fruits and vegetables that we get throughout the summer,” Arathuzik said. “What people should really do is eat the rainbow because the colors signify different nutrients.”
If you live in Massachusetts and are unsure where the nearest farmers market is, the state government has set up a search site. If you live in a sunny state like California, Florida or Georgia, chances are you have these stands year-round.
“Fruits and vegetables offer so many benefits – cancer risk reduction, diabetes prevention, keeping up a healthy weight – and we just don’t eat enough of them,” Arathuzik said. “Even if you can’t get to a farmers’ market, you can buy fresh or even frozen produce at local markets. The fresh produce at a farmers’ market tastes great and is a real treat.”
For more information on what fruits and vegetables you should incorporate into your diet, speak with a Lahey Health physician.