By Evonne Varady |
Hey y’all. It’s my favorite time of year! Farmers market fresh produce stands are in full swing and what’s the best way to eat healthy? Fresh fruits and veggies!
I love the options, I love wandering through the different vendors to see which delicious items are available, I love seeing foods in season, as fresh as can be. I love the smells and colors and sounds and atmosphere of community.
Good food, good people, good vibes. It’s all good, right? Most likely it is, but with the craze of organic and locally grown terms being thrown around and the high price tag that comes with those terms, there’s a bit more to it. A bit of knowledge and a good eye will help you sort through the various claims made from farmers’ stands, and make sure you get what you think you’re paying for.
- If a vendor has a handwritten sign saying the produce is organic, ask to see their certificate. To be honest most organic produces are so proud of their status, you’ll see it displayed somewhere prominent anyway. Just don’t take their word for it.
- Look for smaller stands that sell a modest selection of seasonal produce, avoiding the larger stands with supermarket selections. A real farmer will usually be working his stand with a few relatives and employees, whereas the larger stand employs a huge staff. Real farmers usually drive ordinary trucks; fake farmers drive moving vans. Real farmers pack their produce in crates or bins instead of hundreds of boxes labeled “tomatoes.”
- Farmers market fresh produce won’t look as clean or regular in size and shape, largely because it hasn’t been rejected by a big food store – why do we all like our veggies a uniform shape? That’s right. We don’t want perfectly shaped commercial peppers; we want produce with character (ever seen Siamese-twin cucumbers?) If a bug crawls out of your spinach, don’t run screaming from the market, but instead be thankful that your greens are so fresh and alive. Just wash them well before you eat them.
- Mud, glorious mud – you rarely find any on pre-washed store bought produce, but farmers who have gotten up early to harvest their crop and bring it to the market probably will have given the carrots a slap on their thigh and off they went.
- Local vegetables and fruits are going to be in season in our area. Anything exotic or in season in a more southern or northern state has traveled a long way to get to you – leave it alone.
- Talk to the farmers. This is the only time that you, the consumer, will come in direct contact with the growers. Ask where they’re from and how many acres they farm. Real farmers are usually happy to answer your questions.
So get out those reusable bags and sweetgrass baskets, and bring home some cool stuff.
Wait! Before you polish off that entire pint of blueberries on the ride home, think of all the people who may have touched it before you. Dirty hands=dirty produce. Wash first!
Live Life Fitter!
Evonne Varady is co-owner of Clean Eatz Cafe located on Racine Dr. in Wilmington, NC. From being too skinny, to being overweight, to placing first in the North Carolina State Show, she has been through most of it. In 2013, She and her husband opened Clean Eatz to create a cafe that supports any healthy commitment.