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4 Reasons to Shop at Your Local Farmer’s Market

There’s nothing like the taste of fresh peas, ripe strawberries, or sun-kissed cherry tomatoes picked off the vine from your garden. And fresh fruits and vegetables1 are a staple of a weight loss eating plan. If you don’t have the space or time for a backyard garden, your local farmer’s market can be the next best thing. The produce sold at a farmer’s market2 is fresher than anything you’ll find in the grocery store, and peak freshness equals maximum flavor. But great taste is only one of the reasons to shop at your local market. Here are four more:

1. Superior nutrition as part of a healthy eating plan

As a Curves member, you are most likely a health-conscious consumer. So, you’ll be interested to know that the fresher your produce, the more nutritious3 it can be. Once a fruit or vegetable has been plucked from the vine, nutrients begin to break down. The longer it takes for a veggie to get to your table, the less nutritious it is. Not only does time off the vine matter, how that produce is handled makes a difference. On average, supermarket produce travels 1,500 miles from farm to table. Bruising and improper temperatures, which can happen on the journey, can speed up the loss of nutrients.

Because of the long-distance transport, commercial farmers tend to grow varieties of vegetables and fruits that produce high yields and are more durable. Small, local growers are more likely to choose varieties for flavor and nutrition. When you have an option, choose heirloom varieties, which have not been bred for commercial purposes and produce fruits and vegetables richer in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients – the perfect produce for a healthy eating plan.

Finally, local farmers4 may or may not use fully organic farming practices, but most enrich their soil with compost or cover crops, which create a growing medium plants love. Their roots reach deeper, making them more efficient at taking up nutrients. And one of the best things about buying produce at a farmer’s market is that you can speak directly with the farmer about his or her farming techniques.

2. Potentially lower costs

Every step of bringing a head of lettuce to your supermarket – from growing and harvesting, to transporting, to storing, to placing it in the store’s vegetable bins – adds to the cost. The farmer who picks her lettuce in the morning and takes it to the local farmer’s market5 may charge a lower price.6 For the best deals, hit the farmer’s market at the end of day, when they are looking to get rid of what they have left.

3. New food ideas for your weight loss eating plan

Farmers love trying new varieties of plants. So, as you stroll past stands piled with produce, look for a vegetable or fruit you haven’t come across before. Talk with the farmer about this new gem—its taste, how to serve it or use it in a recipe. New veggie or old favorite, most farmers are happy to share their recommendations for ways to prepare and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Don’t be shy about asking for healthy suggestions for cooking or serving the produce you buy.

4. A stronger community

As a Curves member, you understand the value of community and weight loss motivation—we’re stronger together. Shopping at your farmer’s market supports the growers in your area, preserves farmland, and boosts your local economy. It’s also a great way to support your own healthy eating plan, as well as the health of your community. If you’re not sure where the farmer markets are in your area, you can call up a list using the USDA’s Agricultural Market Service at http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/.

Go early, go often, and enjoy!

 

 

1 Harvard School of Public Health

2 Organic Consumers Association

3 U.S. Food & Drug Administration

4 Organic Consumers Association

5 U.S. Department of Agriculture

6 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics