/ by Siddhi Shroff, a registered dietitian at the UK Markey Cancer Center
Spring is in full swing, which means farmers markets are beginning to open for the season.
Farmers markets are a great way to get nutritious foods that are fresh and locally grown. Most markets carry a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and other products made from locally sourced ingredients. Usually the produce is picked right before it is brought to market, meaning it will likely be at its ideal ripeness and taste, which helps foods retain their beneficial nutrients.
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of a variety of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and fiber – all necessary to a balanced diet. Check out my tips below for getting the most out of your market experience!
As always, continue to follow any diet restrictions recommended by your physician.
1. Plan ahead before visiting.
Before you head to the market, take a look at what produce is in season and search for recipes that incorporate these goods. Plan meals for up to a week using the items you would like to purchase.
Make sure you leave home fully prepared for your experience: Bring your preferred method of payment and bags to carry your purchases. Most farmers markets are outdoors, so be sure to check the forecast and dress appropriately, too.
For those near Lexington, the Lexington Farmers Market began its spring season earlier this month and will expand its hours and locations in May. See the full schedule of locations and hours.
2. Take your time and have fun.
Shop around, compare prices and be curious. Usually the farmer is present and can answer any questions you have about the produce. Don’t be shy about asking what different items are, and talk to vendors about cooking and preparation recommendations and for recipe ideas. Some will even let you sample their produce before you buy it!
If you are experiencing taste changes due to medical treatment, this is a great opportunity to ask the farmer for their recommendations. Explaining your preferences and which flavors work for you can help you add new flavors to your meals.
You can also make the farmers market a family outing by bringing everyone along, giving you time for family bonding and a little outdoor physical activity.
3. Wash, prep and store your purchases.
It’s important that you wash your purchased items well. Always wash and rinse your purchases with water and remove any dirt. Let your items dry, then store them appropriately in the fridge or freezer, depending on when you would like to eat them. Make meal prep during the week easier by chopping up your veggies and other produce ahead of time.