The farmers market can be a great opportunity to pick up locally produced foods your family loves, as well as some new items you may not have tried before. It’s also a great opportunity for both adults and children to learn where the food you’re buying comes from.
Here are a few tips when bringing a piece of the farm back to your table.
- Plan ahead. Bring a list of what foods you need. Scoping out the market's website or event guide gives an idea of what is offered. If you’re bringing kids along, get them excited about what new foods will be there, and ask your child what new things they would like to try.
- Try something new. Challenge yourself and your child to try at least one new food item. The farmers market is the perfect setting for sampling unique foods. Many food stands will offer samples to passersby interested in trying their foods.
- Talk to the farmers. Take this opportunity to meet your local farmers and producers in a relaxed setting. Use this time to have a conversation with the people responsible for growing or making your food. Farmers enjoy getting to know you and appreciate your interest in their crops.
- Ask questions. Not sure how to incorporate that purple potato into a dish your family would like? Ask the individuals selling the foods. They are a wealth of knowledge and are likely to have various ideas on how to use their food as ingredients in your recipes. Some even have recipes available for you to take home.
- Follow the MyPlate method. Most farmers markets offer a wide variety of foods: most are delicious and nutritious, but some are high in calories. When choosing foods, remember the USDA's MyPlate method which emphasizes making half your plate fruits and vegetables, and the rest of your plate with whole grains and lean protein.
- Make a farm-to-table meal. Now, use a medley of what you gathered at the farmers market to prepare your meal. Involve your child in the kitchen, helping to prepare the various ingredients. Try this Heirloom Tomato-Basil Salad recipe after going to your next farmers market:
Heirloom Tomato- Basil Salad
5 heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Toss together and serve either alone or on top of a bed of fresh greens.
Emilie Fielder, MS, RDN, LDN, is lead registered dietitian for the Rockford Health System in Rockford, Ill.
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