|Explore local foods|
Nothing tastes as fresh as a tomato grown in your own backyard. Find out for yourself—even if you’re not the gardening type—by visiting a local farmers market this season.
Farmers markets have grown in popularity in recent years for several reasons, but a top draw for many customers is that they connect people directly with local farmers and locally grown food, which is good for your palate, your wallet and the environment.
How so? Fruits and vegetables harvested in your area don’t need to be shipped from faraway farms, so they look and taste fresher and they retain more of their nutrients. Locally grown foods sold in-season are usually less expensive than comparable supermarket items (even organic produce), and your purchases help keep money in your community. And buying food that doesn’t have to be driven across the country in trucks burning fossil fuels reduces your carbon footprint.
Farmers market tips
Whether you’re enticed by the promise of a fresher carrot, a fatter wallet or a greener planet, consider these guidelines when shopping for local produce:
- Look in the right place. Not sure where your local farmers market is? Visit localharvest.org.
- Shop early. You’ll have a wider variety of produce to choose from if you get to the market in the morning, before bins get picked over.
- Talk with the farmer. Often, the stand is run by the farmer, so you’ll have an expert on hand to answer questions like the differences between two vegetable varieties, how to choose ready-to-eat produce and how to prepare what you’re bringing home.
- Limit your purchases. When everything looks and smells delicious, you may be enticed to buy more than you can eat. So your purchases could spoil before you’ve eaten them. That’s why you shouldn’t buy more than a week’s worth of produce at the farmers market, and plan to return often.
- Think outside the produce aisle. Some vendors sell local farm-fresh eggs, meat and poultry, as well as baked goods, jams, soap or candles at their stands.
- Bring your own bags. Carry your purchases home in reusable bags to further benefit the planet.
© 2014 Dowden Health Media