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Make the Most of Your Produce Run: 5 Questions to Ask at Your Local Farmers’ Market

Make the Most of Your Produce Run: 5 Questions to Ask at Your Local Farmers’ Market

Story by Rica Keenum

Farmers’ Markets are a goldmine for produce at its peak, from plump berries, rosy apples, and onions the size of softballs. You will find fresh fruits and vegetables, fully ripened and delivered directly from fields to market. Farmers’ Markets eliminate long-haul truckers or days to weeks spent in storage. By purchasing fruits and veggies from a farmers’ market, you are supporting growers and stimulating the economy. How neighborly of you!

Whether it is your first time at a market or the hundredth, make the most of your trip by asking a few questions while you are there. 

How fresh are your fruits and veggies?

This matters as once the product has been picked, it begins to degrade and lose nutrients. In terms of freshness, every moment matters for produce. According to The University of California, vegetables can lose 15 to 55 percent of their vitamin C within a week. Spinach is more susceptible to this process, losing a whopping 90 percent of its nutrients within the first 24 hours after harvest. Your apples wither, and bananas become brown mush. It’s incredible how quickly the process occurs — thanks, science. 

How should I store this product?

Whether you are a produce pro or someone new to a plant-based diet, you may learn something you did not know if you ask your local farmer for tips on storing those fruits and veggies. Most are happy to share their knowledge, knowing you will be shopping again if you enjoyed your haul. 

How should I prepare my produce?

Many farmers and local artisans know their way around the kitchen. They are passionate about what they do; chances are, they know how to optimize their flavors. Do not hesitate to ask for tips about preparing the ingredients you buy. If you stumble on an item you have never tried, ask about it. You may find a new favorite food!

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What’s Coming Soon?

Ask this question if food prep is your passion, and you will have time to prepare for the next batch of ingredients in your kitchen.

Environmentally Conscious Questions

If you’re a carnivore concerned about the care and well-being of animals, become interested in how they are housed, fed, and treated. Do they get fresh air and exercise — how much? Look for farmers with organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised animals whose practices are more humane. The benefit provides the products to be more nutritious, as grass-fed beef contains higher amounts of anti-inflammatory omega-3s, antioxidants, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Also, organic dairy products have more CLA and omega-3s than the non-organic variety. Don’t forget to ask about their use and methods of pesticides.

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