The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently been encouraging Americans to consume more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. In fact, most adults should be getting 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables each day, according to the USDA. Fruits and vegetables are good for you, because they are often low in calories and sodium yet are also packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Summer is the perfect time to begin incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet. That's because many locally grown fruits and vegetables are readily available in central Pennsylvania in the summertime.
Of course, if you have the time and space, growing your own fruits and vegetables can be both economical and convenient. But if you don't have the space to spare or you're not a farmer at heart, not to worry! Shopping at your local farmers' market can be just as rewarding. Here's why:
- Produce found in a farmers' market is fresh. Often, its produce for sale is picked within hours of going on sale. Fresher is generally better because some nutrients are lost as produce ages or is processed. Also, fresher produce generally tastes better than older produce.
- Shopping at a farmers' market is a great way to learn about produce. Often, the person selling produce at the farmers' market is also the one who grew it. That means you have access to a wealth of knowledge about the fruits and vegetables on display. For example, your vendor may be able to tell you about how the produce is grown or harvested, how to store it when you get home or offer up some of his or her favorite recipes.
- Shopping at a farmers' market supports the local economy. The vendors at your local farmers' market often live in your community, and buying direct from the source means more money in the farmers' pocket to put back into the community where you live.
- Shopping at a farmers' market is good for the environment. Because the produce is probably grown locally, it doesn't need to be shipped across the country in order to make it to your plate. That means that less fossil fuel is likely consumed when you're purchasing foods that are locally grown.
So go ahead - make up your mind to eat more fruits and vegetables, visit your local farmers' market and try something new! By doing so, you may be both treating yourself to better health and benefitting those in your community.