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Farmers Markets Always a Good Choice | September 18, 2013

Those who read last week’s article regarding organic foods may enjoy this week’s topic about the farmers market.

Another great place to purchase organic produce, besides the grocery store, is your local farmers market.  But, not all produce from farmers markets is organic.  Some farmers say they use organic methods, but choose not to submit to the process required to legally use the term; other farmers use a mixture of organic and conventional methods; and still others make absolutely no claim to being organic.  If organic is your goal, it is in your best interest to talk with the farmer and ask questions as to whether their products are organic. 

Although not all produce offered at farmers markets is organic, it is usually picked at its prime ripeness and packed full of nutrients.  With that in mind, the fall season is rapidly approaching and there is an array of produce in season.  Why not try some new produce varieties to help liven up your relationship with food and add variety to your meals?

Farmers markets are often more affordable (no transportation costs), have increased nutritional value, and offer many new varieties of old favorites.  Just last week, we found dark purple green peppers.  You will never find these in the grocery store!  Buying locally has a positive economic impact on our community by supporting local farmers.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages consumers to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption to five to nine servings per day, to support health and prevent disease.  What better way to enjoy your Saturday morning with the family than going to the market and letting your kids pick out the foods they love?

The produce in season right now in North Idaho includes:  apples, artichokes, arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chiles, cranberries, eggplant, fennels, figs, garlic, grapes, green beans, green onions, various herbs, kale, lettuce, limes, mushrooms, onions, okra, parsnips, pears, peepers (both sweet and spicy), pomegranates, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, rutabaga, shallots, spinach, sweet potato, winter squash and zucchini.  This is the best time of the year to compare prices between the grocery store and the farmers market.

We challenge you to try your favorite food – fresh berries, for example – from the farmers market versus conventional purchased through the grocery store of your choice, and see which you prefer.

If you would like more information regarding your local farmers market, go to www.localharvest.org.