Benefits of Shopping at Your Local Farmer's Market
by Cheyenne Watts | Reviewed by Nikita Kapur MS, RDN, CDN, CLT
We all have childhood memories of biting into fresh, crisp slice of watermelon on a hot summer day, juices dripping down our chins and ruining the t-shirt Mom made us promise not to spill on. How come the watermelon seemed to be packed with infinitely more flavor in the summer than any other time of the year? Well, simply because many of our favorite fruits and vegetables are in season during the summer! And the best place to pick up our fresh produce is at a local New York City farmer’s market.
Here are 6 wonderful reasons to shop at a farmer’s market:
1) More taste and flavor: Locally grown produce is much more delicious than the fruits and vegetables you find in a grocery store. When produce is grown on a farm far away and transported to a supermarket, it must be picked long before it reaches peak ripeness to avoid spoiling in transit. For example, tomatoes are picked while they are still green, and turn red while sitting in the back of a truck on their way to your nearest grocery store. This diminishes the taste of our produce because it is not allowed to be ripened by the sun on a vine or tree, and does not carry all of the healthy sugars that give our food its naturally delicious flavor.
2) No pesticides: The food purchased at farmer’s markets contains zero or minuscule amounts of pesticides, preservatives, and other chemicals. When fruits and vegetables are mass-produced on an industrial farm, pesticides must be used to deter insects and ensure that nearly all the crops are viable and “pretty” enough to be sent to a grocery store. Farmers at your local greenmarkets have smaller farms, where alternative methods to get rid of pests- such as companion planting or simply covering their crops with netting to scare away small animals- are more feasible, practical, and healthy.
3) Nutrition: Nutritional value sharply declines as time passes. The longer a food has been sitting on a shelf in a store or warehouse, or has been traveling long distances, the less benefits the food will have for you and your family’s bodies. The goal is to ideally eat food as soon as possible after it has been harvested!
4) Buy exactly what you need: At the farmer’s market, you can follow dinner recipes to a T. No more buying more than you really need at the grocery store, and having a leftover bunch of old, half-used cilantro sitting in your fridge’s produce drawer. Not only will you avoid wasting produce that you spent money on, but you will also get to pick out the exact vegetables and fruits that will be in your dinner! You get to pick up and feel that avocado, press on the end of that cantaloupe, and knock on that watermelon to test their ripeness. You won’t have to worry about peering through the holes of a mesh bag to guess whether or not your produce is as fresh as you want it to be.
5) Vitamin D exposure: Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, promotes bone growth, and supports normal immune system function. Farmer’s markets are held in outdoor public spaces, so you will absorb that sunshine and get your daily dose of Vitamin D while you shop. What a deal!
6) Environmentally friendly: Since produce found at farmer’s markets is sourced locally, it hasn’t travelled as far as produce that is shipped long distances to our grocery stores. That means less polluting CO2 emissions from transporting the produce, so we can reduce our carbon footprint by supporting local farmers at these greenmarkets.
Which farmer’s markets are closest to me?
Farmer’s markets are held all over New York City each day. The following websites will allow you to find those closest to you. You can even find out which markets will have vendors serving the foods that you love, such as catch-of-the-day seafood, grass-fed beef, freshly baked breads, and more!
1 ) www.grownyc.org
3) www. nyfarmersmarket.com
Now, go out there, buy some fresh fruits and veggies for your next healthy dinner, and catch some rays while you’re at it!