Exploring the Fall Farmers Market

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Leaves are falling from the trees, colors are changing, the air is crisp and cool, and its finally sweater weather! Fall harvest is here and local farmers markets across the country are offering delicious and colorful produce for the new season. From apples and pumpkins to swiss chard and kale, there are plenty of fun fall crops to try. The farmers market is a great place to stock up on some new and familiar vegetables, fruits, and other cancer protective foods. If you are looking for new foods to try, looking for a fun activity to do with family or friends, or simply want to enjoy the season, the farmers market has you covered.

Here are a few tips and tools to help you get the most out of your farmers market trip.

  1. Be Prepared:

Before you leave home don’t forget to grab a few reusable grocery bags. Be sure to include a few insulated freezer bags if you plan to purchase dairy, eggs, seafood, meat or poultry. While shopping and when storing, keep these items separate from fresh produce that you purchase.

  1. Try Before you Buy:

One great perk of going to your local farmers market is that you can typically sample food. Many farmers offer samples of their produce to let you try before you buy. This is a great way to try something new or simply taste a familiar or favorite food. If you want to cook with a new item this is also a perfect place to start. The farmers may have tips on how to cook and prepare certain items or might introduce you to a new recipe. Have fun talking to the grower!

During fall harvest, you will find plenty of varieties of winter squash which are one of the many foods that fight cancer. Did you know that winter squashes are excellent sources of vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber? Buttercup, turban, delicate, and acorn squash are just a few varieties. Have fun exploring the assortment of colors, textures, and flavors of winter squash.

  1. Choose Minimally Processed:

Produce and other food items that are sold at farmers markets are typically at peak ripeness and flavor and are minimally processed. Have you ever noticed the dirt on beets or carrots that have not been peeled? This is a sign that foods have gone through very little to no processing. One of AICR’s ten recommendations for cancer prevention is to focus on limiting the consumption of “fast foods” and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars. What better place than a farmers market to help you stock up on minimally processed, cancer protective foods? Choose a variety of colorful produce, which will be high in vitamins, minerals and cancer protective phytochemicals such as carotenoids, polyphenols, and flavonoids.

  1. Sneak in Exercise:

Farmers markets can vary in size, but typically you will be doing some type of walking. This is a great way to sneak in some extra exercise as you are shopping. There is strong evidence that being physically active helps protect against several cancers, weight gain, overweight, and obesity. Follow AICR’s guidelines and aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous, physical activity a week.

  1. Enjoy at Home:

Be sure to wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating. This can help get rid of many types of bacteria, which can reduce your risk of food-borne illness. It is important to remember that even if you are not eating the skin or rind, you can spread bacteria into the flesh when you cut into certain vegetables and fruit. Give your farmers market fruits and veggies a good wash and scrub before you enjoy!

Farmers markets are a great place to explore this fall and an easy way to support your local farmers. Visit the National Farmers Market Directory to find out more information on farmers markets near you!

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Author: Sheena Patel Swanner

Sheena Patel Swanner MS, RDN is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She is an experienced nutrition professional who makes cancer prevention a reality by empowering and motivating others through healthy, fun, and inspiring recommendations to choose wholesome and delicious foods.

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