/ by Sean O'Nan, MS, RD, LD
Written by Sean O'Nan, a registered dietitian at UK Markey Cancer Center.
As flowers begin to bloom around Kentucky, so does seasonal produce! Local farmers markets are a fantastic resource for anyone looking to buy locally sourced foods at reasonable prices. With vendors from many surrounding counties, the farmers market offers visitors the chance to interact directly with families who produce their goods as well as support local businesses. Farmers markets also allow you to find colorful produce rich in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to maintain good health.
If you have never been to a farmers market, here are five great reasons to try one out:
Meet your local farmers!
This is a perfect opportunity to meet the people who are responsible for producing some of your favorite items. If you are new to the farmers market scene, farmers are great resources who can provide information on how to best use their products, such as recipes for their fruits and vegetables. They can also tell you what other products they will carry throughout season. Additionally, they can give you important information about their foods, which many of our patients find helpful, including possible allergens, organic status, use of preservatives, etc.
Add some variety to your diet.
Eating the same foods over and over can get old, and patients can often lose interest in some of the foods offered at their local grocery stores. A farmers market can offer a unique selection of fruits and vegetables that may not be available elsewhere. Be sure to check with each vendor to find out the shelf life of their produce so that you can eat it before it spoils.
Be on the lookout for high-quality produce.
Patients undergoing cancer treatment may experience changes with their sense of taste and smell. Foods at your local farmers market often undergo less processing and may have stronger, richer flavors than those at grocery stores. Some vendors will even let you sample their products before you buy.
It's fun for the kids, too!
To teach your little ones about the benefits of healthy eating, some farmers markets have special programs for children. These programs may have games/activities, samples and food demonstrations geared toward kids. These are great ways to get your child interested in new foods and can help bring a picky eater out of their shell!
Prices at farmers markets will vary depending on where you live, but you can typically find great deals on local, seasonal produce since vendors do not have to pay additional transportation and shipping costs. If you are eligible for SNAP or WIC benefits, you may also be able to take advantage of the Kentucky Double Dollars Matching Program available at all Lexington Farmers Market locations.
For those who live near the Lexington area, more information about the Lexington Farmers Market locations and hours as well as a list of vendors can be found online.
For additional information regarding diet and nutrition for cancer patients at Markey Cancer Center, please call 859-323-2798 and ask to speak with a registered dietitian.