It’s summer! And, that means fresh produce- tons of it!

I love this time of year: the bounty of delicious foods seems unending!

The picture here was taken last year in our hoophouse. IMG_0210

We had beets, kale, carrots and lettuces, among others. Whether you are growing your own vegetables or buying them this summer, it is important to remember to get variety in your diet!

Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. How much to eat really depends upon you and your intuition. For myself, now that the days are warmer, I much prefer eating meals mostly comprised of vegetables. I make many more salads to include enzyme rich raw vegetables into my diet and when I eat them cooked, I use a high quality traditional fat like  pastured butter or coconut oil to ensure that I am absorbing the nutrients present in the vegetables.

I am also a big fan of organic produce. Pesticides used on vegetables and fruits have been linked to developmental issues in children, can be carcinogenic and can disrupt endocrine function.

If you are not growing your own, you can still get fresh organic produce by visiting your local farmers markets or joining your local CSA
(Community Supported Agriculture).

Here are some tips for shopping at  a farmers market:

1. Make sure that you have put aside enough time. Spend time speaking with the producers and seeing what they have to offer. ( I like to go without a set recipe in my head so that my imagination can take over when I am shopping and seeing what is being offered!)

2. Ask the producer about the growing methods. Is it organic? Sprayed? Transitional (pesticide free, but becoming organic). Remember that many farmers do not hold organic certification but use organic farming methods.

3. If you see something you don’t recognize, ASK! Ask for simple recipes, tips on cooking. You may even be so lucky as to get a sample!

4. If you see something you really like, make sure you ask how long it will be available. Farmers markets are different than supermarkets (in many ways!) but in particular because the items may only be available for a short time. You can’t assume that they will always be there.

5. Bring a cooler! Many markets offer meats and cheeses, prepared food items and if you are shopping for a while, you’ll want to be sure that your food stays fresh!

6.  Bring your kids! There is no better way to get children to eat vegetables than to expose them to the bounty at the markets! Let your children pick out food, count out the carrots, taste the foods and then they can help prepare it once at home!

7. Expand outside of your comfort zone. If you only go to market for sweet corn and tomatoes, let your imagination and sense of adventure lure you into trying kohlrabi, mustard greens, swiss chard or baby turnips. Most likely, you WON’T be disappointed!

Let me know some of your favorite markets in the area and the products you get there!

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