I know Laura and I have talked about going to farmers’ markets and just how fabulous it is to do this kind of food shopping. Well, if you have been pondering when to hit up the market, now my friends is the time! When you get to late summer and fall, you can’t help but notice all the beautiful produce color and variety that is out there. Don’t get me wrong, there are delicious and tasty fruits and veggies to be had in springtime and summertime, but fall brings in a cornucopia of flavor! Plus, it is nice to get out shopping when the sun isn’t melting you or taking your breath away.
Still thinking it is too much effort to figure out when and where to go to find that farmers’ market hot spot? Wisconsin (I’d assume other states have this as well) has farm fresh atlases on their website. It is so EASY to see what is closest to your house so you can plan on when you’ll make your grocery trip. If you weren’t familiar with farmers’ market locations before visiting this website, you sure will be after you check this “market directory” out. Farm fresh produce at your fingertips…what could be better?!
The benefits of shopping at a local farmer’s market are more than just avoiding the hustle and bustle of your regular grocery store experience. It is so nice to know where your food comes from and that you are supporting farmers and people within your own community. According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, the average American meal travels 1,500 miles to get onto your plate. Surprised that your broccoli is so worldly and traveled? Just think of the gas and resources it took to get this broccoli perfection in front of you. I bet you’d think twice about not finishing that pile of cruciferous greens!
How about the fresh appeal? Nothing beats biting into a sun ripened, ruby red tomato. I’d take that any day over a green tomato that was picked early to ripen as it traveled its’ 1500 mile journey to my mouth. I’m sorry, but that sun lovin’ sweetness just isn’t there! When you’re shopping at the market you may have to rub the morning dew off of the watermelon – it’s so fresh! The taste sensations you experience from the farmers’ markets are so great because ripeness was left up to Mother Nature to create. With the hands of some hard working farmers, you’re given the opportunity to partake in those lovely flavor sensations.
Talk about the antioxidants! With all the rich colors of the season, you can rest assured that your body is benefiting from the immune supporting, free-radical fighting goodness that produce has to offer. Eat a rainbow of color and your body will thank you. Red fruits and veggies like beets, cherries, radishes, red cabbage, and apples are loaded with lycopene and/or anthocyanins; two awesome antioxidants. Orange and yellow produce like carrots, cantaloupe, pumpkins, rutabagas, and yellow peppers are filled with beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. These are two sidekicks to the other antioxidants. Green produce has lutein, folate, and B vitamins and the cruciferous greens pack a punch with their sulforaphane which has both antioxidant properties and antibacterial properties. Blue and purple produce get its color from anthocyanins…kind of like the red produce. Last but not least is the white produce… yup, white has benefits too! It has a pigment called anthoxanthins, which is another phytonutrient, i.e. antioxidant. You can’t help but feel all the healthiness dripping from this rainbow.
Phew! I am out of breath after that paragraph and all the tongue twisting words! What it comes down to is color and variety. By making choices to eat “across the rainbow” you allow your body to utilized all of these fantastic antioxidants. They all are a little different, so that variety gives you the best opportunity to use their body and immune benefiting powers to their highest potential. Not to mention the flavor creations you will have with all that color and fun texture. Have fun picking out that beautiful produce this time of year and make sure to check out a farmers’ market near you!
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