Nutrition Matters – September

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Farmers Markets: Bringing the Farm to Table:  Using all of the unique food finds after a trip to the local farmers market can be a challenge. With a little planning, your field trip to the farmers market can be a perfect way to introduce your family to new foods while learning where food comes from. Here are the six most important things to remember for bringing a piece of the farm back to your table.

Plan ahead: Bring a list of what foods you need. Scoping out the market’s website or event guide gives an idea of what is offered. Get your family excited about what new foods will be there, and ask children what new things they would like to try.

Try something new:  Challenge yourself and your family to try at least one new food item. The farmers market is the perfect setting for sampling unique foods. Many food stands will offer tasters to passersby interested in trying their foods.

Talk to the farmers: Take this opportunity to meet farmers and producers in a relaxed setting. Use this time to have a conversation with the people responsible for growing or making your food. Farmers enjoy getting to know you and appreciate your interest in their crops.

Ask questions:  Not sure how to incorporate that purple potato into a dish your family would like? Ask the individuals selling the foods; they are a wealth of knowledge for various ideas of how to use their food as ingredients in recipes. Some even have recipes available for you to take home.

Follow the MyPlate method: Most farmers markets offer a wide variety of foods, most are delicious and nutritious, but some are high in calories. When choosing foods remember the USDA’s MyPlate method which emphasizes making half your plate fruits and vegetables and the rest of your plate with whole grains and lean protein.

Make a farm-to-table meal: Now use a medley of what you gathered at the farmers market to prepare your meal. Involve your child or grandchild in the kitchen, helping to prepare the various ingredients. Try this Heirloom Tomato-Basil Salad recipe after going to your next farmers market visit:

Heirloom tomato-basil salad ingredients:

  • 5 heirloom tomatoes cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:  Toss together and serve either alone or on top of a bed of fresh greens.

For additional foods, health and nutrition information contact Shelina Bonner, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Greene County Center at (252) 747-5831.