Although farmers’ markets or curb markets as they’re called in some parts of the country date back to the era of the family farm, these days the markets are sprouting up all over. No longer relegated to early Saturday mornings, today they are up and running as weekday events in central business districts and even in the nation’s capital at the White House. The White House market is an offshoot of the garden installed by First Lady Michelle Obama along with her laser-focus on moving the nation’s youth to increase or become more physically active and make healthier food choices.

If the market hours don’t fit into your schedule, in some areas the farmer’s market will come to you—via a pre-ordered, pre-paid box of locally grown fresh produce. The box may include tried and true favorite foods, a surprise or possibly an item one would bypass at the local supermarket. The box delivered last week to my friend included bok choy, beets, lettuce, green onions, peaches, grape tomatoes, cabbage and snap beans. The beets and bok choy, she confessed were two items she would have left at the grocery store.

However, with her new commitment to healthier choices and using what was delivered in the vegetable box, she called yours truly. After our chat she had learned that beets are a good source of antioxidants, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and folate. Bok choy is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and also folate. As for the prep the beets could be pickled, roasted, or grilled and the bok choy could be steamed, stir fried, or also grilled. Both are additionally excellent ingredients for a tossed salad.

One of the key benefits of the farmer’s market is meeting new people and the community conversation. The markets create a great opportunity to sample and buy new fruits and vegetables as well as exchanging info about how to prepare and cook them. Farmers markets are becoming the new town square. The farmers’ market is an array of colorful choices—the deeper the colors, the better. Red fruits and vegetables contain the antioxidant anthocyanins; orange and yellow produce contains beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A. Dark green leafy greens are good sources of Vitamin A, together, these chemical may help reduce risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness if untreated.

Whether you’re growing your own, pre-ordering a box of fresh local produce or shopping at the local farmers’ market choose variety and try something new each week—you just might like it! Don’t forget people who eat more generous amounts of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including strokes, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and perhaps heart disease and high blood pressure.

Check out the USDA website’s agricultural marketing services page to find farmers markets in your local area. Both a national map of farmers markets (static) and state-specific maps of farmers markets (interactive) are available for viewing.

The healthy take away here is to be adventurous with your meal planning and think outside the box. As adults we set the examples in our households, if we don’t try new things our families won’t either. It’s a great teachable moment for families to see where our produce comes from. Who knows maybe it will spark you and your family to start a small garden, and if not I am sure you will make some new friends.

For more information and ideas, check out my free report 10 Weight Loss Tips for Life at http://thenutritionplanner.com

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Although farmers’ markets or curb markets as they’re called in some parts of the country date back to the era of the family farm, these days the markets are sprouting up all over. No longer relegated to early Saturday mornings, today they are up and running as weekday events...