Farmers’ market can help improve diet, health

Jan. 04, 2014 @ 11:02 AM

The New Year is here, resolutions have been made, and the first full week of 2014 is about to start! A popular resolution is improve diet and improve health. It is also a difficult resolution because it involves changing habits and patterns.

If part of your resolution involves shopping at the farmers’ market to help improve your diet and health, here are few tips that can help you make sustainable, positive changes that can last all year.

 1. First, start small. It is very easy to make lofty goals during vacation, which can become difficult to attain when life gets busy. So, if you are looking to improve your diet, don’t start with gourmet meal plan, instead start small. Add more salads to your diet during the week. Or, add one more vegetable a day. A small change that sticks is better than a big change that only lasts for a few weeks.

 2. The Triangle’s farmers’ markets are seasonal and local. While most local markets are open all year long, the selection at local farmers’ markets changes regularly. As the seasons change, the selection reflects what farmers can raise in the area. For example, during the winter, greens, root vegetables, meats and eggs abound. This January, think about adding a side of greens or a salad to your meals. Experiment with making local omelets, cooking a whole chicken, or talk to the farmers about cuts of meat that they have available during the wintertime.

3. Farmers’ market food is fresh. If you are wondering why to add local food to your diet this year, remember that the food at the farmers’ market is the freshest food in town. On average, food from the grocery travels more than 1,500 miles and involves days of refrigeration before it gets to you. The food at the Durham Farmers’ Market travels no more than 70 miles to get from the farm to your table. Most of the produce at the market was picked within 24 hours and of coming to market.

4. Farmers’ markets are full of whole foods. Whole foods are ones that are unprocessed or unrefined, including vegetables, fruits, grains and some meats.  So, with the exception of the delicious croissants at the farmers’ market, most of the foods are whole foods. Studies show that diets rich in whole foods are good for your heath.

Shopping at your local farmer’ market can do more than improve your heath. Supporting local farmers improves the community by keeping more money in the local economy. It can also help you improve the environment by lowering your carbon footprint since local food travels fewer miles to get to you.

Here’s to a healthy new year, Durham!

Erin Kauffman is market manager of the Durham Farmers' Market, which is now open winter hours of 10 a.m. to noon each Saturday in downtown Durham.