Why Shop at a Farmers Market? (plus, the nutritional benefits of in-season produce!)

By Caitlin Fields, University Health Center Dietetic Volunteer and Maryland Dietetics Student ’13

Summer farmers markets are a great place to find fresh, affordable and locally grown produce, and with the arrival of The Farmers Market at Maryland, it’s now easier than ever for Terps to access seasonal fruits and vegetables.

But, why shop at a farmers market?

Fruits and vegetables are natural, whole foods that provide highly beneficial vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

Buying produce at farmers markets is not only good for you, it’s good for your community too. Farmers markets provide fresh foods direct from farmer to consumer without corporate intermediaries, which helps to boost local economies and strengthen regional food systems. Farmers markets can also be a great place to buy locally-sourced and organic meats, eggs, dairy, and baked goods.

While many farmers markets are open year-round, the best produce selections can be found in the summer and early fall.

Here are some nutritional benefits and preparation tips for a few of this season’s local fruit and vegetables:

Asparagus

This spring and early summer vegetable is low calorie and a good source of folate, thiamine, and vitamins A, B6, C and K. Asparagus can be expensive to buy in the store, but tends to be more affordable when purchased locally and in-season.

Preparation tip: Toss asparagus with olive oil and roast in the oven at 400°, stirring occasionally until tender (about 15 minutes). Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice before serving.

Strawberries

An excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. Also a good source of folate, B-complex vitamins, phytochemicals, and manganese. Get your fresh strawberries soon, though. Strawberries are only seasonal here from May-June.

Rhubarb

Low-calorie and rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, potassium, vitamin C, and calcium. A half cup of raw rhubarb contains 52 milligrams of calcium (roughly 1/3 of what is found in a half cup of milk).

Preparation tip: Strawberries and rhubarb are great paired together! Try this recipe for vegan strawberry-rhubarb muffins.

Kale

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. This superfood is high in fiber and loaded with a variety of vitamins and minerals. In fact, 1 cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6, 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K.

Kale’s antioxidant powers have been associated with reduced inflammation and a decreased risk of cancer.

Preparation tip: Make these incredibly easy kale chips for a satisfyingly crunchy treat.

Visit The Farmers Market at Maryland every Wednesday from noon-4pm in front of Cole Fieldhouse. Like the market on Facebook to stay updated on the special events and what’s in season each week.

This entry was posted in Nutrition, Physical Wellness, Social Wellness, The Farmers Market at Maryland and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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