Fresh, locally grown produce is sold at farmers markets.
I love to shop at farmers markets. I have visited many in the different communities throughout my state, as well as, some in other states while I have been vacationing. I look forward to the experience every season. Why? The atmosphere is wonderful. The sweet scent of the fresh produce and flowers is intoxicating. And, the predominance of smiling faces is uplifting. From my experiences, I have learned a few things that have helped me to get the most out of my visits to farmers markets. Here is what I have learned:
What to expect: Anything and everything. Farmers’ markets are typically known for their wide arrray of fresh, in-season produce, homemade baked goods, and flats of flowers and other plants from local farmers. Larger markets may offer craft goods made by local artists, as well as, flea market items – such as used books and toys. Depending on the community, you may find entertainment, such as music from “garage” bands and magicians who entertain children. Many farmers markets are open-air entities, however, some are enclosed. Although each community offers its unique approach to the farmers market, you can rest assured that you will find smiling, friendly faces who are eager to share their expertise and experiences with you.
What to bring:
- Reusable bags with handles. Few vendors have bags for purchased items; and, when they do, the bags are typically plastic and flimsy. Reusable bags are eco-friendly and tend to be stronger, thus reducing the risk of breaking under the weight of the fresh produce.
- Small containers with lids. Many vendors use the containers for display only and do not give them to you as part of the purchase, hence, your pint of loose blueberries may get squashed in your bag. Small containers from home that are used to store leftovers can help solve the problem.
- A wagon or mini cart. During one of our first farmers market experiences, my family and I got carried away with our purchases and had no means of which to carry them. Luckily, a vendor was selling small wheeled carts. We purchased one and have taken it with us on many subsequent outings.
- Bring a cooler with ice packs. A cooler will help to keep your purchases fresh until you can take them home and prepare them.
- Cash. Some vendors accept personal checks and/or credit cards, but many do not. Using cash to purchase your items will also speed up the checkout process.
- Comfortable walking shoes, clothes for the weather (e.g., rain coat), sunscreen, sunglasses and/or hat, etc,.
- A sense of adventure. You will never know what you will find. Keep an open mind and try a new fruit or vegetable that the vendor has for sale. Sometimes, just by letting your senses be the guide, you may find a new favorite that you can make part of a healthy diet.
Best time to go:
- Early if you want the best selection.
- Late if you want the best deals.
- Make a list of what you need to buy, however, don’t let it limit you. Although you will want to have a general idea of what you want to buy, a farmer may be offering something that is not on your list, but looks particularly fresh. Don’t hesitate to buy it if you think you could use it in a recipe for that week.
- Plan to spend some time at the market, especially if it is a large one.
- Do an initial assessment. Take a stroll around the market first to get a feel for what vendors are offering. Make a mental note of items of interest and see how the prices for similar products compare between vendors.
- Ask the farmer/vendor questions. Does he or she have recipes or tips on storing, preparing, and cooking the produce? Were conventional farming methods used or organic? What produce does the farmer think he will bring next week?
Farmers markets are a wonderful way to support your community and to be eco-friendly at the same time. Buying locally produced products is cost-efficient and reduces the ill effects on the environment that occur with transporting these goods across the country. Produce from farmers markets tend to be fresh and many individuals who patron these markets claim that their purchases taste better. To find a farmers’ market near you, click here.
Do you shop at farmers markets? What has your experience been? What are your favorite finds from a farmers market? Share with us, we want to know!
Yesterday’s release of scientific data that links Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to pesticide exposure supports the case for going organic. The study, published in the May 17, 2010 online version of Pediatrics – The Official Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics, found that out of 1139 children ages 8-15 years, those whose urine samples contained higher levels of organophosphate metabolites were more likely to have ADHD. Previous studies have shown a correlation between markers of organophosphate exposure and impaired neurodevelopment (e.g., behavioral problems and reduced cognitive function) in children living in environments with high exposure (e.g., living on a conventional farm). However, the recent study is the first to see a correlation in the general population for whom no particular exposure has occurred.
Most of the children (93.8%) had some detectable markers of organophosphate exposure in their urine. Depending on the marker of organophosphate exposure, there was a 55-75% increase in the risk for developing ADHD for each 10 fold increase in urinary concentration of the metabolite (dimethyl alkylphosphate levels). The researchers note that because organophosphates are typically eliminated from the body within 3-6 days, their presence in most of the children studied indicates continued exposure.
Besides being present in the environment, residue of organophosphate metabolites has been found on fruits and vegetables, such as frozen blueberries. Investigators highlight that there are several limitations to the study and that there is a need for further investigation to determine if the link between pesticide exposure and ADHD is causal.
The current study’s findings highlight the importance of Americans to be aware of their food source and what they are putting into their bodies, as well as, their children’s bodies.
What do you think? Does this study support the case for eating only organically farmed fruits and vegetables? Can rinsing conventionally grown fruits and vegetables eliminate the risk? After reading this report, will you make the switch to organic foods? Share with us, we want to know!
Filed under diet, eco-friendly, fruit, green eating, green living, health, healthy food, organic, sustainable, Uncategorized, vegetables
Eating nutritiously at work is difficult in and of itself, considering the myriad of temptations commonly present at the workplace, such as vending machines, cakes for birthday celebrations of co-workers, baked-goods brought in by thankful clients, etc,. Trying to eat “green” in this setting can be an even greater challenge. But, it is possible with a little effort, planning, and support from like-minded coworkers. Consider these points as you follow the “greener” path to eating.
- Eat seasonal. Prepare snacks and lunches for work using produce that is in season in your region. Not only will it taste better but, by so doing, you will reduce the carbon footprint associated with transporting these goods cross-country.
- Have a share from a local Community Supported Agriculture program delivered to the office. Ask your employer to offer this option as part of the meals served in the cafeteria or find coworkers who will split the share with you and help to prepare a “family-style” lunch.
- Eat organic. Because no synthetic pesticides and fertilizers are used in organic farming, it is more eco-friendly than conventional methods. If expense is an issue, try eating organic meals at work just once a week or as often as you can.
- Pack fruits and vegetables grown from your own garden for snacks and lunches. Better yet, bring in “extras” from your bounty and leave in the conference room for yourself and co-workers to snack on during meetings.
- Pack snacks and lunches made up of “Fair Trade” products. When local is not an option, look for products from a fair-trade organization. These businesses promote sustainable agriculture and promise to pay a fair price to farmers, usually from rural and under-served communities. Products from these companies will be labeled “Fair Trade.”
How do you “eat green” while at work? Share with us, we want to know!
Which sounds more appealing? “I can’t eat anything” or “I deserve nutrient-rich foods”?
Is your goal to have good health and to look and feel your best? Then focus on that instead of worrying about your weight. Obsessing about what you cannot eat isn’t a great strategy in the long run. Instead, think about helpful and easy things you can do to kick-start your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
For example, I estimate that 15-30% of women could increase their energy level and strength by taking the right iron supplements and/or eating the proper iron-rich foods. Once you have more energy, you will be able to look forward to exercise – without thinking of it as a chore. In fact, you might even find yourself looking for ways to become more active!
A great first step is to start going to local farmer’s markets to find fresh, nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich ingredients to make fantastic salads and soups for yourself. Once you’re more active and prepare your own healthy foods, you probably will lose weight. But even more important, regardless of your weight, you will increase your chances of living a long, healthy life. For more information, visit my blog (http://healthyfat.blogspot.com/) and my website (http://www.healthyfat.com/).
About the Author:
Gerda Endemann, Ph.D., is a Nutrition Educator with a practice based in Palo Alto, CA. She received her undergraduate educational training at U.C. Berkeley in Nutrition & Dietetics and her doctorate degree in Nutritional Biochemistry & Metabolism at M.I.T. Dr. Endemann is the author of numerous publications based on research she conducted on fat nutrition, cholesterol metabolism, heart disease, and cancer at such prestigious institutions as Stanford, Harvard, Brandies, and M.I.T.. In addition to offering personal consultations, Dr. Endemann is a course instructor at Stanford University and Foothill College. She also provides seminars for corporations, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations. The Health and Food Forum’s Blog is pleased to have Dr. Endemann as a member of our community.
Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day! How can you celebrate with eco-friendly eating?
- Buy local. It will cut down on fossil fuels consumed by delivery trucks and reduce the costs of transporting products over great distances.
- Eat less meat and more plant-based meals. Raising animals for meat requires more water and energy than it does to grow grain. And, according to a report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock generate more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation, accounting for a whopping 18%!
- Plant your own organic garden. You can’t get more locally grown than that! Plant your favorites and you are more likely to eat them, cutting down on food waste.
- Compost. Give back to Mother Earth what she produced by composting your food waste. It is an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to feed your plants.
- Use your “Shop to Lose” app to make your grocery list and conserve paper!
Mommy Tip: “Renew, Reuse, and Recylce” your kids’ old toy storage unit that they have outgrown – turn it into a school lunch pantry. Designate each bin to contain a different nonperishable, nutritious food item that is “Mom Approved.” When your kids pack their school lunches for the day, they can grab what they need from the bins.
"Renew, Reuse, and Recycle" an old toy storage unit by turning it into a school lunch pantry.
Do you have a great idea for eating green? Share your tips, we want to know!