As I wrote last year at this time, June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. Observance of this month is designed to increase healthy eating by encouraging people to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet each day. It is probably no coincidence that it is timed during the month that summer officially begins. As the weather warms up there are an increasing number of fresh fruit and vegetables to choose from each week.
Nothing beats local farmersí markets for finding the greatest variety of locally grown food. And, if you live in an area where your market has been closed for the season, now is the time that it will come back.
One of the best things about shopping at a farmersí market is that most farms have samples so that you can taste what the farmer is the most proud of and what is at the height of freshness. Take advantage of this, and use it as an opportunity to try something you might have been reluctant to try before. It is also a good opportunity to eat, or add, a new or different fruit or vegetable each week.† The goal of eating better is to add as many different colors of fresh produce to your diet as you can, or as the USDA says, try to eat ďa colorful variety.Ē
Farmersí markets are also one of the easiest ways to eat seasonally. Eating seasonally not only gives you more freshness, flavor and packs the biggest nutritional punch, but saves you money as well.
Regardless of what you end up buying at the farmersí market, try to buy only enough to last for a few days so that it retains its freshness and nutrients, and so that you donít wind up wasting it by having to throw it out if it goes bad.
What to do with the bounty that you buy at the farmersí market? The easiest way to get more into your diet is to add fresh fruits and vegetables to the meals that you are already making. I have found that if I add fresh produce to the things I already eat, I donít ever feel like I am giving anything up and actually feel like I am getting something instead because of the additional flavor they add to things.
My favorite and easiest way to get more produce in my daily diet is to add fresh veggies or fruit to salads to increase its nutrient content. Broccoli, fresh spinach, sugar snap peas, beans, or corn all make great salad toppings. One of my favorite things to add to mixed greens is fresh fruit. Depending on the season I add mandarins, tangerines, apples, oranges, strawberries, peaches, pluots, and grapes. The sweetness of the fruit offsets the flavor of the vinaigrette and the greens.