Wodraska: Shop smart at the farmers market
As a holistic lifestyle coach and trainer, eating the freshest, healthiest food available is extremely important to me. The more nutritious the food, the more energy it will provide. One of the best places to find fresh, nutritious food is at a local farmers market.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate the offerings:
Produce • Vegetables are the main event, but before you say yes to those greens and tomatoes, ask if any pesticides or fertilizers have been used. Obviously, there is a bit of an honor system here. Use your instincts. If the vendor doesn't want to talk about the crops or seems unsure, consider going to another stand. Honest farmers love that you have an interest in their crops and are not insulted by your questions.
Also, if the produce at a particular stand looks picture perfect, be suspicious. There are unscrupulous farmers who simply buy produce and then try to resell it as "fresh from the farm." Most naturally or organically grown produce will have a few bumps, blemishes and irregular sizes.
Animals • Vendors also sell beef, pork and lamb at the farmers market. Before you buy, ask the producer a few questions: How were the animals raised (caged or free-range)? What were they fed? Did the feed contain added hormones or antibiotics? How were the animals processed?
Ask these same questions when buying fresh eggs or cheese. Eggs from a local chicken farmer are often more nutritious than commercial eggs. The birds have been allowed to run around the yard eating worms, insects and other natural things. Commercially raised chickens are frequently kept in small cages and fed large amounts of grains.
Many local cheeses are made with unpasteurized milk, so all the good enzymes are still intact.
Honey • Thanks to the proliferation of backyard beekeepers, there are often several sources of honey at the markets. Like the cheese, I recommend the raw, unpasteurized honey so you get all of the nutritional benefits.
In general, farmers markets might seem pricier than your neighborhood grocery store, but it's satisfying to know you have supported local farmers.
If you shop right, you'll be doing good not only for the farmers but for your body, too.
Lya Wodraska is a certified CHEK practitioner and holistic lifestyle coach. E-mail her at Lwodraska@sltrib.com.
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