By Helaine Krasner, RDN, CDN
We are fortunate to live on Long Island where there are many local farms. Some of these farms sell their products directly to consumers at various farmers markets. One benefit of eating fruits and vegetables from a local farmers market is that the produce is at its freshest with peak flavor!
Much of the fruits and vegetables available at your local store have traveled great distances, sometimes from across the world. After they are delivered they may linger for several days prior to purchase and then may sit for several more days prior to being consumed. Once produce is harvested it immediately starts to lose nutrient value and flavor. Many vitamins and antioxidants are vulnerable to degradation upon exposure to oxygen and light. Less time from farm to table means more nutritional benefits and better taste!
Shopping at a farmers market provides a great opportunity to try something new. The local vendor may provide a sample to taste along with some recipe ideas. Some farmers markets feature products from certified organic farms. Organic farming is an agriculture system that does not use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, does not use genetically modified seeds, and supports sustainable land use. If you’re interested in organic produce, a farmers market is an ideal place to purchase those products at peak freshness and at an affordable price. Just as with regular produce, and sometimes even more so, organic items may linger on store shelves leading to decreased nutritional value and flavor. In addition, organic produce is often more expensive, so purchasing directly from a farmers market is a smart way to get more value for your money. Regardless of whether you’re looking for organic fruits and vegetables a farmers market is a great place to get a wide variety of the best produce Long Island has to offer. Selection will vary throughout the harvest season.
There are more than 30 farmers markets across Long Island, so no matter where you live fresh local produce is only a short distance away. Farmers markets are typically opened from May to October. It’s easy to search the internet to find the locations near you, along with the days and times they are open and what types of products you can expect to find there. Long Island Cares and Cornell Cooperative Extension both provide a listing that is a great resource.
Benefits of shopping at a farmers market
- Fruits and vegetables are at peak freshness and flavor
- Products may be less expensive
- Buying local supports the local economy
- Opportunity to meet the farmer
Helaine Krasner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes great pride in helping our Bariatric and Medical Weight Management patients achieve their health and weight loss goals.