There are many beneficial reasons to shop at local produce markets. Here are some differences between a produce market, farmer’s market and supermarket. Bottom line, the fresher the food, the healthier and more nutritious it is. So which ever way you choose to shop, choose fresh! Watch this video from Dardenne Produce Market on Hwy N in O’Fallon, MO!
- Produce Markets: These markets are your biggest value. The day your produce arrives off of the boat or truck, it is picked up by the owners of these local markets. This does not necessarily mean that it is locally grown, but it does mean it is fresh. The markets pick up their produce daily, so it virtually never sits on a shelf for more than a day or two. It also arrives ripe. Fruits and vegetables are at their nutrient peak when fully ripened. These markets are small and conveniently located, which allows you to stock up easily so you have fresh fruits and veggies at home. Many produce markets even offer local eggs, milk and bread at a great price. Supporting these markets is supporting local business.
- Farmer’s Markets: These are my personal favorite, but not too easy to come by unless you actually live in a farming community. This is where farmers actually pick the fresh fruits, vegetables and even eggs, and bring them to the stands to sell the very same day. This is the greenest way to shop because the food is not imported. This is also extremelely nutritious because the food is picked and sold the same day. You can discuss how the food was raised and handled with the farmer in most cases. You may even get lucky and get your hands on some raw milk, free range chicken or turkey, or grass fed beef!
- Food Co-Ops: This is convenient if you don’t live in a farming community, but was local and naturally grown produce. This is when you pay a set price for however many months to have locally grown produce delivered to you. The up side to this is you are eating in season, which is the most nutritious in terms of vitamin content of your food. The only downfall is if your staples are not in season, then they will not be in your order, and if something is in season that you don’t particularly like, or know how to use, you’ve got to come up with something creative to do with it.
- Supermarkets: This obviously is what we are all exposed to a majority of the time. Some supermarkets do have a “locally grown” section, and “organic” section. The benefit is what you want, is always in season and in stock. Keep in mind, if you are eating something like exotic fruit in the middle of winter, it may have been picked weeks earlier. This is not your freshest option because the vegetables or fruits are picked before they fully ripen, which is when they are most nutritious. They can also sit on boats, trucks or markets for weeks at a time. Once they are picked and the longer they sit they are actually losing nutrients.
So, when trying to eat healthy the best choice is to go with fresh. Learn what foods are locally in season and try to choose those first. My recipes on www.cookingwitholivia.com will help keep you creative, any season! Farmer’s and Produce Market’s are at their peek right now as spring rolls in!