Written by: Audrey Clement, R.D.
I’m sure many of you enjoy shopping at the farmers market from late spring until early fall for a number of reasons. Shopping at a farmers market is a great way to support your community and local businesses, minimize waste, enjoy richer flavors and fragrances and more.
Dietitians love to encourage their patients to shop at farmers markets for all of those reasons and more. I specifically love buying produce from farmers markets because the produce may be more nutritious than produce found in a grocery store. The less time produce spends in transportation and being stored on shelves, the better! It also encourages me to try new produce I wouldn’t normally go for at the store. This adds more diversity into my diet!
If you’re thinking about hitting up your local market this summer but don’t know where to start, I got you covered. Below are my top picks for a quick farmers market run and how I use the items.
Heirloom tomatoes. There truly are no tomatoes that compare to the ones you pick up at your local market. Because the flavor is so prominent, I love to enjoy slices of tomatoes with just a pinch of salt as an element on a snack platter. I also love to throw them in caprese salad or on top of cottage cheese or avocado toast! Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and carotenoids. Did you know that when you heat tomatoes it actually increases your body’s absorption of lycopene?
Sprouts. Sprouts are a nutritional powerhouse and are so easy to use; you can throw them into any summer dish. Buying sprouts at the grocery store is SO expensive. You can buy a bag of sprouts at the market for a fraction of the price. My favorite way to use them is on turkey or tuna sandwiches. It’s a mega upgrade from lettuce! Sprouts are packed with fiber, vitamin C, folate, and iron. Nutrients will vary based on the type you get. Sprouts count as a cruciferous vegetable so if you don’t like broccoli, cauliflower and some of the other hardy vegetables, this is a great alternative!
Pickles. Yes, you heard me right, pickles are a guaranteed pick-up for me at the market. Not only are The Crazy Cucumber pickles the best I have ever had (sweet heat flavor is the best) but they also help to keep me hydrated in the hot summer months. Pickles are full of sodium which is the main electrolyte our body loses when we sweat. If you are an active individual and find yourself chugging water all day in the summer, pickles are a great way to replenish your sodium losses and hydrate more effectively!
Any and all fruit. All fruit at the farmer’s market is insanely good. The fruit is harvested at peak sweetness and undergoes minimal transport compared to grocery store fruit. Because the fruit is so sweet to begin with, my favorite way to eat them is on top of ice cream or cool whip. It’s a great way to add antioxidants and fiber to desserts! I also love to throw them in salads for a bite of sweetness. My favorite fruits to get when they are in season are strawberries, peaches and apples.
Eggs. Eggs are the multivitamin from the earth and one of my favorite foods! Eggs at the farmer’s market tend to be a bit pricey so if you’re gonna splurge on anything, let this be it. If you compare the yolks of a standard egg to a pasture-raised egg, you will notice that the yolk of the pasture-raised egg is going to be a deeper, more vibrant orange color. The color of the yolk is a great indicator of the nutrition content. My favorite way to enjoy market eggs is to cook them sunny side up with fresh heirloom tomatoes and sourdough bread!