Five reasons why you should shop at a farmers market!  

By: Jodie Shield, RDN

Curious where your sweet bell peppers and juicy ripe tomatoes come from? Stop by a farmers market and talk to a farmer. Thousands of farmers markets across the U.S. offer fresh produce, meat, and eggs sold directly from the farm. The Illinois Farm Families® asked me to speak about healthy eating to a group of “field moms”  – Chicago area women who voluntarily visit different farms throughout the year to learn more about how food is actually grown before it reaches their tables. This opportunity convinced me: know your farmer, know your food. So grab your recyclable bags, here are five reasons to shop at a farmers market this week.

  1. Fresh taste best. All of the fruits and veggies you buy are fully ripened in the field and brought directly to you within days of harvesting. Plus, they’re in season, which means they are picked at the peak of their flavor. Tip: This seasonal produce guide can help you shop year round.
  2. Learn helpful cooking tips. Not sure what to do with all of that kale? How do you peel Swiss chard? Farmers often have good recommendations on ways to prepare their products and delicious recipe suggestions. Tip: My FREE app Time To Eat Healthy is filled with quick, easy homemade recipes. You can download it at iTunes and Google Play.
  3. Play it safe at the plate. Whether you want organic or conventionally grown produce, free-range eggs, or GMO-free foods, no need to decipher confusing food labels. Just ask the farmer, most are more than happy to chat about food safety concerns. Tip: Always wash fresh produce thoroughly before eating because unwashed fresh produce can make you sick, too.
  4. Convenient and affordable shopping. Farmers markets are easy to find and products are priced to sell so they typically cost a lot less than those found in large supermarkets. Tip: Use the USDA Farmers Markets Search to find one near you.
  5. It’s fun! Shopping at a farmers market gives you the opportunity to meet your local farmers, learn about foods grown in your area, and catch up with friends and neighbors. Tip: Check out this fun video Farmers Markets: Fresh, Nutritious, and Local.

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About Author


Jodie Shield, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N. Jodie Shield has been a consultant and spokesperson in the field of nutrition for over two decades. A former national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (1989-1995), she has worked extensively with the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and taught nutrition and medical dietetics at the University of Illinois. Currently she is a complemental faculty member of the College of Health Sciences in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University in Chicago.

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