The guidelines of a healthy diet include a variety of fruits and vegetables – also knows as “eating a rainbow.” Summertime means readily-available local fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as an abundance of farmer’s markets where you can buy the produce (and other tasty treats).
The general idea is that the brighter the natural colors of a piece of fruit or vegetable, the more nutrients it contains, such as antioxidants and phytonutrients. Some common ones include beta-carotene and lycopene. Benefits include boosts to your immune system, vision, skin, bones, heart, lungs and joints, as well as helping to fight cancer.
In addition to helping support your physical health, farmers’ markets support the health of the local economy, community and the environment.
- Less fuel is used due to the shorter distance food is traveling.
- Food is fresher and tastier when there is less time between picking, purchase and eating.
- By supporting local farmers and businesses, money is pumped back into the local economy.
- Interacting with the people who grow your food provides an extra level of connection and there is a good chance that you’ll run into neighbors. Vendors may also be able to introduce you to new varieties of produce or ideas for preparation of the food.
- Farmers’ market outings can be a fun way to involve children in learning about where their foods comes from, food preparation and new foods.
- There is sometimes a misconception that food is more expensive at a farmers’ market. Because there is less overhead and product, this isn’t necessarily the case. Plus, the quality (value for the dollar) makes it overall a smart spend.
Some of the foods that are in season in the Mid-Atlantic in the summer include broccoli, cabbage, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, lima beans, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes, snap beans, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, beets, carrots, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, pears, plums, and raspberries.
Find a local farmer’s market near you and start exploring and enjoying a colorful experience.