Healthy Nutrition: Fresh produce is a healthy purchase

As fresh vegetables begin to sprout in abundance in central Pennsylvania, remember the region’s farmers markets and community-supported agriculture. Not only are they excellent ways to support the regional economy and farmers, local produce is freshly picked, nutritious, delicious and inexpensive.

By skipping the ride from farm to grocery store, homegrown fruits and vegetables are fresher and more nutrient-dense. These crops are picked and sold at peak ripeness to ensure these attributes. Produce that has to travel great distances usually ripens en route with chemicals and is artificially colored to look more appealing. Local food is naturally brighter and crisper; it just tastes better.

Indigenous foods help with digestion by encouraging folks to eat seasonally, as nature intended. Cleansing greens and sprouts are available in spring; hydrating fruits and veggies in the hottest months; and hearty root vegetables in fall and early winter, when rich, warming foods should sustain life during the cold months.

Several area farmers avoid treating crops with harmful, synthetic chemicals. Even if the growers cannot afford the organic label, many of their operations are just as pure. Furthermore, if you want to ask about their practices, a well-informed farm representative is present when you purchase the food.

Individuals often complain eating healthy is costly. Yet if you buy most of your items directly from the growers, it is very economical. In additon, junk food and sugared beverages are unnecessary to the average person’s diet. Not buying these items saves the consumer money and extra girth to their waistline. CSAs can even be delivered, which even saves time.

Items purchased from farmers markets and CSAs can be eaten raw, juiced or cooked. Stir-fries, soups and grilled salads are among the easiest ways to prepare bounty, or simply wash the veggies, cut them up and eat. For simple recipes or to find a farmers market or CSA near you, contact me.