Today, more and more people are realizing the joy of shopping, cooking, and eating from farmers’ markets. The farmers’ market is becoming the town square of modern times; you reconnect with your neighbors and your community, and you are making your whole life more healthy and vibrant.
By choosing seasonal organic food, we are eating whole foods that are good for our health and impeccably fresh, and we support the livelihood of local farmers. Our own Wyandotte County is the home of many such farms, many of them operated by immigrants and refugees as their way of living.
Did you know broccoli begins to lose cancer-fighting compounds within 24 hours of harvest? Other foods we should eat as close to picking time as possible are artichokes, arugula, asparagus, brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, parsley, mushrooms, and spinach since they are losing their nutrients fast.
Have you ever heard of The Dirty Dozen? The Environmental Working Group creates a list of fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticides. They recommend you purchase these as organics. The opposite is their list of Clean 15. These are foods we don’t have to worry about.
However, shopping at the farmers’ market is different than shopping at the grocery store. As a matter of fact, it works the exact opposite. One enters a grocery store with a list of ingredients to buy for a specific meal. At the farmers’ market, we shop with our eye and with the seasons. But, the concept of cooking with the seasons is an age-old idea. Unless one lives in California, one has to keep close track of what is in season and maybe stock up in the freezer. The strawberry season in Kansas ended last weekend, as I am writing this in mid-June (the season was a little delayed this year due to the colder spring). We had two weekends to fill our freezers with fresh and fragrant strawberries. (You will thank yourself in the dead of winter for the morning you got up at 6am to stand in the strawberry line when you smell your frozen strawberries. The summer will enter your cold house for a minute). Now the blueberries are in season for a few weeks. I’ve come to the market each Saturday for the past 10+ years and, as I am picking the fresh vegetables, I am creating in my mind meals for the upcoming week.
Seasonality may initially make you feel like you have to deprive yourself, but once you get the hang of it, you realize that the farm-raised fresh food simply tastes amazing. You will soon learn to incorporate seasons into your menu. The strawberry season gives way to blueberry season, which merges into peach season, which welcomes the famous Kansas corn!
Reputable health studies are released about grass-fed eggs and meat. Eggs from pastured hens were more nutritious than the conventional eggs you might find at the supermarket. They were higher in vitamin A, E, and omega-3s, as well as lower in cholesterol and saturated fat. The industrial grain-fed meat is full of hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, with more inflammatory omega-6 fats from corn and fewer anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. Grass-fed meat is also better for you, as they are guaranteed antibiotic and growth hormone-free and are higher in key nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins, and a beneficial fat called conjugated linoleic acid that’s been tied to improved immunity and anti-inflammation benefits. And there is also the A2 milk from European cows that is gentle to digest.
Another trick of shopping at the farmers’ markets: the early bird gets the worm! Some items sell really fast. Those are any fruits since it is especially hard to grow fruits in Kansas, and supply is limited. Another such item is mushrooms, but there are more mushroom growers starting to grow them in our area.
Kansas City is lucky to have many farmers’ markets that are open on various days of the week, with Saturdays being the busiest day. There is one market that is strictly organic. A list of local farms and searches by various products could be located at this link.
I LOVE to talk farmers’ markets! Please contact me if you have any questions! (I may tell you what my favorite market is or how to get delicious raw milk). firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Services Librarian
Kansas City, Kansas Public Library
625 Minnesota Ave.
Kansas City, KS 66101
913-295-8250 ext 1103