Pickin’ your produce locally

farmers marketFarmers markets offer a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables that provide vitamins and minerals to help you stay healthy.

By Lena Gill, RD, CSO, CD
North Star Lodge Cancer Center

We have been singing the praises of eating more fruits and vegetables, and now that summer has arrived in the Yakima Valley, produce has become more abundant. This is the first year my family has grown a large vegetable and herb garden, but we find that we continue to rely on and enjoy visiting our local produce stands and farmers market to supplement what we aren’t growing. Farmers markets offer a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables that provide vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals—all of which help the body stay healthy, protect against the effects of aging and reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that over 1 million people visit a farmers market weekly. The average supermarket produce travels about 2,000 miles to its destination compared to 50 miles for farmers market produce. Freshly picked produce not only tastes better but keeps longer too! Buying from our farmers also helps support our local economy. Just think about how much would stay in our community if every household spent just $10 each week at our farmers market or neighborhood produce stands.

Enjoy picking a little color for your plate and use The New American Plate (aicr.org/new-american-plate) or MyPlate (choosemyplate.gov) as your guide. Learn about new and old favorites, including how to prepare them and when they are ripe. Most farmers love to share what they know and may be able to give you cooking and recipe hints.

If you want to make it a fun family event and get a little sun and exercise, some local farmers allow you to pick your own produce, such as cherries or blueberries.

“For optimum health, scientists say, eat a rainbow of colors. Your plate should look like a box of Crayolas.” Janice M. Horowitz


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