June is National Fruit and Vegetable Month, which fits nicely with our discussions about bariatric health. What better way to celebrate than to shop at your local farmer’s markets for fresh produce? Other than the benefit to your bariatric health, there are many benefits to buying fresh produce from our local farmers. Here are our top reasons for shopping local:
- Buying local produce contributes to your community and its economy. Every dollar spent on local foods generates twice as much income to provide for the local economy.
- When you’re buying local produce, you’re getting in touch with the current season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are most abundant, and are typically the least expensive.
- Local produce is guaranteed to be fresh and ripe. Produce is allowed a longer time to ripen on their vines because they don’t have to travel long distances, and they are typically sold within 24 hours of harvesting. You get a tastier, vine-ripened product.
- Because the produce isn’t traveling far, your carbon footprint is reduced, which is promoting better air quality and reducing pollution. The foods are also less likely to be contaminated and tampered with.
- Supporting your local farmers is supporting responsible land development. The farmers are able to keep their land to continue growing produce to supply to their communities, giving their land good reason to stay undeveloped. The sustainability of their land then allows for production of a wider variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Shopping at farmer’s markets allows you to build relationships with the farmers who grow your produce. Knowing where and how your food is grown can be empowering and reassuring that your food is healthier and cultivated in an environmentally friendly atmosphere.
- Buying local is inspiring. With a variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from, you are more likely to incorporate this same variety into your own meals. The farmers typically have ideas for cooking, and sometimes even have recipe cards to hand out.
Bariatric health is a constant consideration for those post surgery. Here are a few special tips for smaller stomachs:
- Buy small amounts. Markets usually carry produce in a variety of sizes so you can pick the amount you’ll be able to eat. You can choose as little as 10 cherries, 1 pear, and 2 tomatoes. Local markets will help you manage your portions and budget!
- Buy produce with a longer shelf life. Carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and beets are among many of the vegetables that stay fresh for a week or more, so they don’t go bad faster than you can eat them.
- Aim for a rainbow of colors. Brighter vegetables are often packed with the most nutrients. For fun, look for unique colors like orange cauliflower, purple beans, or rainbow carrots. Bonus tip: eat the peels if they’re edible – that’s where most of the vitamins are!
- Hydrate while shopping. Markets are usually outdoors. Prepare for weather conditions and hydrate as often as you need to prevent dehydration.
Eating protein first is always important, but even a bite or two of fruits and vegetables can add nutrients and flavor! Here are some tips for adding that local produce to your high protein meals:
- Add fresh berries to Greek yogurt
- Use butter lettuce to make tacos or tuna salad wraps
- Toss chopped spinach or arugula and goat cheese into your scrambled eggs
- Serve cheddar cheese with a few apple slices – try Honeycrisp, Braeburn or Ambrosia!
- Blend a handful of raw kale and blueberries into a protein smoothie
- Make a salad with sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and balsamic vinegar
- Serve a side of roasted asparagus with grilled salmon
- Munch on cherry tomatoes and cucumbers dipped in hummus or tzatziki (yogurt dip)
- Make a lentil soup with pureed winter squash
- Green Living. http://www.greenlivingonline.com/article/benefits-buying-local-food
- Ozark Natural Foods. http://onf.coop/go-local/why-buy-local/