by Kiley DeMarco, NLC
So, you get out of work, stomach is grumbling, and you ask yourself the inevitable, nightly question: “what’s for dinner?!” You open the fridge to find the same ole, same ole. You’re so bored that you settle for a PB&J…again…
After devouring your less-than exciting “dinner,” you’re feeling (again) like a huge slacker when you see the beautiful salads and wholesome meals on your Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest feeds.
If you had taken that trip to the farmers market over the weekend like you had planned to, you would have opened the fridge to a bounty of new, exciting, and super fresh options to experiment with!
Here’s how a trip to the farmers market can boost your health in more ways than you think. Kiss those PB&Js goodbye for a while; you’ll be replacing ‘em with summer salads, artisanal cheeses, crisp veggies, fresh baked goods, fruit galore…and more.
Farmers Market Veggies are Fresh
This just in: fruits and vegetables are good for your health!
Ok, you knew that.
How about a pop quiz: what’s better, toting home a bunch of freshly picked, locally grown herbs, fruits, and veggies from your neighborhood farmers market or packaged produce that’s likely spent days (or weeks) on a truck and/or in a warehouse?
Another question: what’s better, picking your own strawberries, apples, or corn at a local farm from the farmer who grew them or buying them from the grocery store, unaware of where they came from, how many hands have touched them, and what chemicals were used to preserve them?
Fresh, local, in-season produce maximizes nutritional benefits, straight from your local soil to the local market to your local kitchen table.
Taking out the middleman and shortening time from soil to plate requires less/no preservatives, increases sustainability, and leaves food with unbelievable natural flavor.
When I use fresh, local produce to make a salad, smoothie, or my homemade pesto (simply blend arugula, basil, and lemon with a handful of nuts of your choice – so easy!) the flavors truly POP. It’s better than store-bought every.single.time.
Farmers Markets Have Some Serious Variety
Sure, we all know that leafy greens are king, (for good reason) so always load ‘em up, but also keep your eyes peeled for produce that will urge you to expand your palette. Tasting the rainbow (no, not skittles!) and eating a varied diet ensures a diverse range of nutrients.
Instead of grabbing your usual cucumber and onions, give your salad a crunch of color and flavor; try radishes, berries, and fresh herbs. Just wash, chop, and throw them over your greens; all you need is a little lemon juice, vinegar, or olive oil for a delicious (and nutritious!) summer salad.
Opt for kohlrabi instead of your usual summer squash. It’s high in antioxidants and can be eaten raw (kholrabi slaw, it’s a thing!) or cooked (kholrabi fries, anyone?!)
Try a locally-made sauce or dressing instead of your typical store-bought choice. You’ll most likely find all natural ingredients as opposed to the jibberish we often find on our food labels, most of which mean sugar or empty calories.
So, switch it up, experiment, be adventurous, tickle your taste buds, and purée your own pesto. You won’t be sorry – trust me.
Farmers Markets Will Keep Your Wallet a Little Bit Fatter
I’m always pleasantly surprised when I walk away from the farmers market with bags full of goodies for a fraction of the cost of grocery or health-food stores. Rarely do I spend more than $20-$30 at the farmers market and I leave feeling like I got a whole new wardrobe (best feeling ever.)
How’s this for a win: a pound of fresh-caught flounder for $12 when it would typically cost double that at the store (and chances are the fish isn’t remotely local or wild.) I topped that baby with fresh-squeezed lemon, salt, and pepper and tossed it right on the barbecue. You better believe we ate well that night and enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next day.
It’s all about supply and demand; farmers sell what they have at the time, while grocers import their goods, boosting the price while cutting nutrients and flavor.
When you go where the goods are made, whether it’s a bunch of kale or a pair of designer shoes, you’re bound to spend less and get more bang for your buck. Use your savings to treat yourself to a local bottle of wine…because balance is the key to life after all.
Farmers Markets Are FUN!
Instead of trying to get in and out of the grocery store as quickly as possible, the farmers market is an experience to savor. It’s like meeting the artist at an art gallery, except the art is edible and delicious!
Each and every item at the farmers market has a story behind it – a why, when, and a how. Have you ever asked how the wheat at the grocery store was harvested, the difference in taste between two types of mushrooms, or how a bar of soap was made?
I love learning about how our local bread baker finds virtually no intolerance to her breads, baked with locally harvested wheat, suggesting that it’s not the gluten we should fear, it’s the processing. The farmers’ insight is not only full of facts but also passion, deep knowledge, and enlightenment.
For those with an eye for color, texture, smells, and the “art” of food, there is nothing more pleasing than fresh, colorful edibles.
And for those of you who have never indulged in a farmers market stroll, that’s gotta change.
I dare you to skip your boozy brunch or Saturday morning cartoons. This weekend, rally the family, a friend, or your pup for a field trip to the farmers market and enjoy a taste of nature, cultivation, and vitamin D.
Kiley DeMarco, MSW, NLC Nutritionist, is the founder of One Healthy Hamptons, online magazine for all things healthy in the Hamptons. Kiley is Nutritious Life Certified and has a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. She lives healthy and happy in Sag Harbor, NY with her husband and their Swiss Mountain Dog, Sammy.