When it comes right down to it, food is energy, and fresh food provides high quality nutrition. Farmers markets are opening up across North Dakota, and that means fresh fruits and veggies are in season.
There are many advantages to shopping for food that’s produced and raised closer to home. Often called the “local foods movement,” eggs, dairy, poultry, fish, beef, bison, vegetables and fruits that come from less than 100 miles away are usually considered local food.
Farmers markets feature fresh local produce.
Benefits of local foods
• Meat and produce bought regionally are generally as fresh as you can get, and sometimes even picked or prepared the same day.
• Money you spend locally often goes to area farmers and helps regional economies.
• There are little to no preservatives in local produce and meat.
• You might even get to know the person who raised your food.
• It costs less and produces less energy to package, ship and deliver food from nearby.
Tips for farmers markets
• Shop early in the day for prime selection.
• Go during the last hour when farmers would rather give you a deal than haul home their harvests.
• Ask growers how to best prepare fruits and vegetables; ask bakers what to serve with breads. Ask what vendors will bring to market in the coming weeks, which will help you plan healthy menus.
• Cash in the right amounts is most efficient for you—and vendors.
• Select fresh-eating recipes and make a list of fruits, vegetables, herbs and baked goods to pick up. Plan to make preserved jams and salsa or extra veggies to freeze.
• The beauty of farmers markets is surprise items. Try at least one new item each week.
Zucchini, potatoes, gourds of all shapes, sizes and flavors are abundant in our area of the country. Though these are common local produce you may find throughout the growing season, they’re anything but boring. Here are some tips for keeping recipes fresh, too:
• “Zoodles”: These low-carb, gluten-free “noodles” are made by cutting zucchini into pasta shapes, such as for lasagna.
• Squash: From soup to curry dishes to sweets, squash is a nutrition powerhouse that can be added to soups, stews and even dessert bars.
• Potatoes: Though they have a reputation for being high in carbohydrates, potatoes are a great source of potassium and contain many nutrients. Most of the powerful nutrients including fiber is found in the skin of the potato so try to include the potato skin in recipes.
Find a farmers market near you
The North Dakota Farmers Markets website has a comprehensive list of farmers markets throughout the state. Click here for the directory.
Lonna Whiting is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.