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10 Wonderful Health Benefits of Shopping at the Farmers' Market
Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to help the environment, your local economy, your health and your waistline all at the same time? Well that's exactly what you get when you shop at your local farmer's market! There are so many benefits that farmers' markets have to offer! Here are 10 ways that shopping at a farmers' market can help to benefit you and your health.
- Fruits and Vegetables - Let's be honest, we could all stand to eat some more fruits and vegetables. According to the most recent Federal Dietary Guidelines, the typical American diet consists of way more meat and carbohydrates than are needed and not enough fruits and vegetables. What better way to get more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet than straight from the farm!
- Straight from the Farm - Many times, the food at the farmer's market was picked that morning or just the day before. It is fresher than anything you could get at a supermarket. Plus all the fruits and vegetables at a farmers market are naturally in season, which means they aren't grown using artificial means like commercial farms would use to make sure they can supply it year round. The naturally grown fruits and vegetables will have more vibrant colors which means they will have more nutrients, and will taste better too!
- Taste the Rainbow! - No, not Skittles®, we're talking about fresh produce! It's important to eat a variety of different foods, and what better way to eat different foods than to eat different colors. The variety of colors indicates a variety of nutrients, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that are essential to a well balanced diet and there is no shortage of variety at Farmer's Markets.
- Locally Grown - Locally grown produce isn't going to use as many chemicals and pesticides as the huge industrial farms would. It's not going to be transported long distances, artificially ripened, genetically modified, or anything else that happens with industrial farming that ends up stripping the food of essential nutrients, while at the same time adding harmful ingredients. Not everything you find at a Farmers' Market will be certified organic, but it will be close to it, and it will be safer, more nutritious, and better tasting than anything that comes from an industrial farm.
- The Road Less Traveled - Local food comes from local farms that are....well...local! That means they didn't have to travel far, so they didn't need to be covered in plastic or other preservatives. There was also less vehicle emissions. All of these things are better for the environment, and a cleaner environment is a healthier environment.
- Meat and Potatoes - It's not all disassembled salads at the Farmers' Markets, they have the meat and potatoes too! Not to mention cheese and other dairy products. All of which are likely to be healthier than anything you could buy at the store. Local farmers are less likely to give their livestock antibiotics like the big industrial farms do to make the animals bigger. The animals are also going to be treated better and won't be living in the overcrowded conditions that is allowed at the industrial farms, meaning the animals are stronger and healthier.
- Fun in the Sun - Most Farmer's Markets are held outdoors which means fresh air and sunshine! Some Farmer's Markets might move indoors in the colder weather, but most are outside during farming season and the warmer months. So catch some vitamin D and enjoy the soothing calm of nature as you peruse the stands of local vendors.
- Walk this Way - Not only can you enjoy the fresh air and sunshine as you shop for farm fresh and nutritious food, but you can log some extra steps along the way. Walking while you shop is a great way to gain some extra mileage. While you're at it, park a little farther away, walk the strip a few extra times, take your time and enjoy the day!
- Recipe for Success - If you buy something at a grocery store, chances are the high school kid working behind the counter isn't going to be able to tell you what meals you can make with the food you just bought. At the farmer's market, the vendors are often from small, family-owned businesses where every employee is intimately involved in the final product. You may not know what kind of dish to use celeriac in, but rest assured the person you just bought it from could probably give you a dozen different recipes for it! Healthy ones, too!
- Support the Local Economy - Buying local helps to support your local economy. This may not be a health related benefit, but it does help to spur a healthy economy. Without the support of their community, local farmers would struggle to stay in business and they wouldn't be able to provide all their healthful food to people like you. So in a way, supporting local farmers can benefit your health, albeit indirectly.
There are plenty of local Farmers' Markets in the Capital Region including the Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market and the Schenectady Greenmarket. A list of other Farmers' Markets in the area can be found here.
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