Enjoy the bounty of your local farmers markets and growers.
Only 1 in 10 adults get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day. Needing to up your game? Try shopping at an Illinois Farmers Market or produce stand. You’ll learn what’s in season, how to wash and cut different fruits and vegetables, and how to transform them into delicious dishes everyone will enjoy. Discover the art of menu planning, be inspired, and take away new recipes to try! Read our Tips for Sampling the Season.
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
Locally grown produce has more nutrients. Fruits or vegetables at the grocery store have traveled an average of 1,500 miles from farm to store. On that journey, the produce may have lost up to 45% of its vitamin nutritional value.
Benefits to Local Economies
Buying local foods from direct-to-consumer, DTC, options include purchasing food from farmers markets, farm stands, or CSAs. Researchers have found that people who buy from DTC outlets are more likely to engage in several healthy practices, including having their own vegetable garden, being aware of the MyPlate campaign to promote federal dietary guidelines, and searching the internet for information on healthy eating. People who bought from DTC outlets were also more likely to rate the healthfulness of their family’s diet as excellent or very good.
Purchasing 15% of a family’s food budget from local farmers results in a $639 million increase in the central Illinois economy. For every $1 million in revenue, direct-market farms create almost 32 local jobs; whereas, larger wholesale growers create only 10.5. For every dollar spent at the grocery store, only 16 cents goes to the farmer. At the farmers market, the farmer receives the full benefit.
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 to be offered
- Bring cash and a clean, reusable bag
- Dress appropriately, wear comfortable shoes
- Don’t overbuy — you can come back next week!
- Stroll the entire market before you buy, check availability, prices
- 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
- Vegetables and Fruits, Harvard T. H. Chain School of Public Health
- Households that buy fruits and vegetables directly from farmers tend to possess health-oriented attitudes and behaviors, USDA
- Ask an Expert: Six Tips for Planning Menus around Farmers Market Selections, Utah State University Extension