Sara's Column: Farmers market gives the top bang-for-the-buck

It’s coming up on that time again.
May 9, 2014
Sara McManamy-Johnson

It’s coming up on that time again. 

Actually, it’s coming up on time for a lot of stuff–swimming pools, lakeside get-togethers, shorts and sandals–but those aren’t what I’m referring to.

Farmers markets throughout Tennessee are getting ready to go into full swing.

I’ll admit I’ve been almost counting down the days.

I never realized until recently just how lucky we are in this area to have such ready access to not just fresh fruits and vegetables, but locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

People aren’t so lucky in some places.

It’s not a big secret that fresh fruits and vegetables are good for you. It seems that every other day another scientific study is detailing another fatal ailment that fruits and vegetables can help stave off.

And it’s also becoming more widely recognized that local produce gives you the best bang for the buck. Produce naturally loses available nutrients over time, but refrigeration can help slow that loss, according to a 2005 study by Penn State food scientists.

The problem comes in that if that nice, green spinach you’re picking up from the grocery store travelled from, say, California, it might have gotten a double-whammy. It takes time to ship, but it also may not have stayed at the proper temperature for maximum nutrient retention during that time.

And you can’t tell just by looking at it, according to Penn State’s scientists.

Locally grown produce can help circumvent those issues simply by getting the food to the table more quickly. It only has to travel a few miles from the fields.

Additionally, when you shop at a farmers market, you can often actually speak with the person who grew those nice, big tomatoes. If they’re not marked “organic,” you can just ask what sort of fertilizer they use. At least you’ll know what you’d be consuming and you can make an informed choice.

Finally, farmers market offerings are often much more cost-effective than grocery-store produce. Between reducing distribution costs and cutting out middlemen in the supply chain, the cost savings can help you save a pretty decent chunk of change on your grocery bill.

So keep the farmers market in mind when it’s time to stock up on groceries. Your health and your pocketbook will thank you.

Sara McManamy-Johnson is the digital content director for The Lebanon Democrat and Wilson County News. Email her at sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com or follow her on Twitter @wilsoncoreports. 

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