Enjoy the bounty of your local farmers markets and growers.
Only 1 in 10 adults gets the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Needing to up your game? Try shopping at an Illinois Farmers Market or produce stand. Curious what's in season?. Read our Tips for sampling the season for a list of fruits and veggies and tasty recipes.
Health Benefits of Eating Fruits and Vegetables
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can:
- Lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer
- Lower the risk of eye and digestive problems
- Lower the risk of weight gain
- Increases sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber
- Reduce high blood pressure
Fruits and vegetables travel an average traveled an average of 1,500 miles from farm to packing plant to the grocery store. Along the journey, produce may have lost vitamins. Other nutrients, like minerals, carbohydrates, fat, and protein, should remain the same. Buying locally grown foods limits the distance traveled and vitamin loss.
USDA defines the term “local foods” as “direct or intermediated marketing of food to consumers that is produced and distributed in a limited geographic area.” They share that there is no set distance to “limited geographic area,” so some areas may define “local” as within a certain mile radius or with a particular state.
Many fruits and vegetables travel both internationally and domestically to reach the stores you shop at. Some reports look at the miles a food has traveled. Another measurement is carbon footprint, which compares the generated mass of carbon dioxide (CO2), such as in tons, per unit, such as kilograms or liters. This calculation includes not just miles a food traveled, but also how much energy was used to plant, water, grow, harvest, store, transport, and other efforts to get a food from seed to your stomach.
Buying foods from farmers near you limits a food’s carbon footprint and limits loses of vitamins related to long storage. Other nutrients, like minerals, carbohydrates, fat, and protein, should remain the same during storage.
What’s in season?
- Spring: Asparagus, peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes, rhubarb, strawberries, onions, cabbages, sour cherries, sprouts, squash
- Summer: Cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, melon, berries. apples, eggplant, nectarines, okra, peaches, potatoes, garlic, carrots, turnips, peppers, beets, sweet corn, raspberries, blueberries
- Fall: Winter squash, sweet corn, beets, turnips, apples, pears, salad greens, green beans, rutabaga, gourds, pumpkins, parsnips, pears, apples, grapes
- Winter: Winter squash, cabbage, collard greens, potatoes, beets
- Check your local newspaper and social media for types of produce available near you.
- Bring cash and a clean, reusable bag.
- Dress for the weather and wear comfortable shoes.
- Don’t overbuy — you can come back next week!
- Stroll through the entire market before you buy to check on what foods are available and to compare prices between vendors.
- Wash fruits and vegetables just before serving.
- Buy meat that has been kept at 41F° and keep it separate from other products.
- Only buy pasteurized cider.