You know your dentist. You know your doctor. Do you know your farmer?
Farmer's markets are an excellent opportunity to get to know your farmer and pick up some tasty, nutritious foods.
Local farmers can offer a lot more varieties than a supermarket. Purple carrots are cool to find. Ever seen pattypan summer squash?
Try these three tips as your navigate your local markets this year!
1. Start Out Strong
- Dress appropriately for weather and walking
- Bring reusable bags (or even a wagon)
- These can hold more and are sturdier than plastic bags farmers may give you
- Bring cash
- While more and more markets are taking credit cards, cash will make for an easy transaction
2. Be a Savvy Shopper
- Try something new!
- Maybe it is just new to you or maybe it is a new variety a farmer tried this year
- If you are looking for the best food, go early to pick the quality you want
- If you are looking for bargains, go late
- Farmers will not want to pack up produce to take home and may be willing to haggle on a reduced price (no guarantees though)
- Manage expectations
- Do not go to a farmer's market in Illinois to find tomatoes in May or pumpkins in July
3. Talk to Your Farmer
- How is your produce grown?
- Maybe your farmer does organic practices but does not advertise. Or ask about pesticide applications if that concerns you.
- What is your favorite crop is to grow?
- How do I cook this? (Do you have a recipe?)
- Remember to wash all produce at home before you eat them!
- How should I store this at home?
- What did you grow new this year?
- I want to try something new. What do you suggest?
Staying on Budget
If you feel buying fresh produce is beyond your budget, know that some farmer's markets will accept benefits from state programs.
Cucumber Strawberry Salsa (Serves 18, serving size 2 Tbsp)
This easy salsa is great for summer and will be a refreshing, cool treat.
1 cup strawberries, washed, diced
1 cup cucumber, washed, diced
1/2 cup red onion, washed, finely diced
1/4 cup fresh mint, rinsed, chopped
1 Tbsp lime juice
1. In a bowl, combine strawberries, cucumber, onion, and mint.
2. Toss with lime juice.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve immediately with baked whole-grain chips or crackers.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 5 calories, 0g fat, 0mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate
Recipe presented to Clinton Area Farmers and Artisans Market in 2013
Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.