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The Benefits of Farmer's Markets

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By: Karen Yontz Center Staff

One of the rewards of early autumn is the bountiful fresh fruits and vegetables that can be found at your local farmer's market. Now is the time to gather up all sorts of goodies that you can put on your table tonight or that you can freeze or can to enjoy when summer is a distant memory.

Vegetables are most in abundance in September and into October and November. Now is an excellent time to stock up on the last of the summer beans, tomatoes, and corn. In addition, you will find lots of leafy greens such as arugula, kale, collard greens, spinach, and cabbage. If you're planning ahead for your holiday meals, grab leeks, carrots, potatoes, squash, broccoli, and cauliflower. Want to add a bit of zesty flavor to your recipes? Pick up some parsnips, radishes, and peppers. Other vegetables that are available right now are cucumbers, eggplant, beets, and okra.

Are you in the mood for something sweet? Maybe you weren't aware that raspberry season lasts well into the autumn–sometimes as late as November. This makes it far easier to incorporate fresh berries into your diet. And when we think of harvest-time foods, we tend to think about apples and cranberries, both of which are in abundance right now. While it may be easiest to get cranberries at your local farmer's market rather than wading into a cranberry bog, apples allow for exercise as well as healthy eating. Across the state of Wisconsin, there are many places where you can go and pick your own apples, combining a nice workout in the fresh air with a bushel of fresh apples of all varieties.

In a recent study, it was found that when people started shopping at inner-city farmer's markets, they lowered their consumption of full-sugar sodas and increased the amount of vegetables they ate. Shopping at a farmer's market offers many other benefits as well. Your produce is guaranteed fresh so it's going to taste its best and offer the optimal amount of nutrients. It offers you the chance to expand your horizons and try new fruits or vegetables or variations on the same-old types you usually eat; purple green beans, anyone? For you nibblers out there, farmer's markets are more likely to give you the chance to "try before you buy"–not sure if you'll like the taste of those cherry tomatoes? Ask to try one! Finally, farmer's markets give you the opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint by buying locally, which also helps support the farmers in your area. Plus, being able to meet the folks who are growing your food means you can ask questions about their growing practices and inquire about the best ways to prepare the food. Visiting the farmer's market is also an excellent way to get out in the fresh autumn air, meet some neighbors and new people, and enjoy your community.

To learn more about the benefits of farmer's markets along with delicious recipes in which to use your tasty finds, visit The Karen Yontz Center.

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