How farmers’ markets help me to eat well
Posted by kathryn in Easier eating
Today I have a guest post, from Lesh Karan of The Mindful Foodie. This is part of an occasional series on Limes and Lycopene, around the theme of what helps people to eat well. Lesh is a Melbourne based freelance writer, with a particular interest in wholefoods, health and wellbeing. The Mindful Foodie is a wonderful blog, full of cracking recipes and thoughtful pieces on healthy and ethical eating. Over to Lesh.
Those who’ve read my blog and know me through Twitter will know that I’m a huge supporter of farmers’ markets. It’s a win–win situation all round: for the farmers, for the community, for the environment and for me. But, today, I’m here to talk about what’s in it for me. Here are five main reasons why farmers’ markets help me to eat well:
1. Only fresh & seasonal produce
If it’s not seasonal, it’s not fresh. That’s why I buy most of my produce at farmers’ markets, where the food has been harvested close to the day of the market, sometimes as late as the day before. This means my husband and I eat produce that is at its nutritional peak, and, therefore, we get more minerals and vitamins than foods that have been stored for long periods. Besides, seasonal produce is cheaper too, which I means I can buy more wholesome food with less money. It’s also considerably yummier. I mean which one would you choose: a naturally ripened, sweet and juicy heirloom tomato, or one of the watery, insipid, commercial variety? Personally, I think it’s worth waiting for summer for nutritionally dense and yummy tomatoes.
2. Promotes a plant-based diet
At farmers’ markets, I’m not tempted to buy processed, packaged foods. Frankly, because there aren’t any. Sure, there may be some baked goodies, but there aren’t many stalls that sell them; besides, these treats are generally homemade with whole, unprocessed ingredients – e.g. real eggs, real flour, real butter. Mostly, though, stalls sell fruits and vegetables, with a handful selling quality nuts, homemade pantry items, and animal products. This means I don’t come home with stuff that I’ll regret eating later, or that will compromise my healthy eating habits.
3. Accessible pesticide-free & organic produce
I find that I can buy most produce, if not all, organic or pesticide-free. It’s also easy to get free-range meat that’s also free of antibiotics. This is particularly important to me, as I have a couple of immune-related disorders, so I don’t want to burden my immune system with chemicals, where possible. Also, because I’m buying directly from farmers (i.e. there’s no middleman), these foods are generally cheaper than buying them at organic stores, making them reasonably priced.
4. Exposure to new fruits & vegetables
I have been exposed to new types of produce and varieties of other foods that I’ve never seen in supermarkets. Like heirloom fruits and vegetables, for example. This means I have easy access to an array of produce. Otherwise, I would just end up sticking to the same types of foods all the time and my body wouldn’t get the diverse nutrients that nature has to offer.
5. Discover recipes & new ways to cook things
At the markets, I’ve noticed people are always willing to share how they cook certain vegetables. My ears always perk up when it’s something I’m not familiar with, or something that I’d like to try. And I tend to ask questions too. See a couple of my farmers’ market inspirations are here and here. Also my way of doing things is to buy what seems like a weeks worth of veggies to make up dishes – both new and variations of old ones – during the week. It’s almost like getting a weekly veggie box of goodies delivered, then deciding what to do with them – a surefire way to get loads of vegetables in my meals!
Really, I don’t know where I’d be without farmers’ markets and their farmers. I am so grateful and so lucky to have some sensational ones nearby. They make eating not only good for me, but such a joy too!