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 Feeding & Nutrition
Who's talking? (1)
Heng O.

Weekly Healthy Living Series (Week 3) - Farmers Markets: Learn to love them

Heng O. 6 years ago

I recently met a friend at the Santa Monica's farmers market on Wednesday who had just moved down from Portland. The market is a place I have been going for the past 15 years, so the produce, vendors and peculiar ingredients are all very important to me. But when I looked over at her I saw an overwhelmed glow over her face and she said, “I don't know what to do here - there are so many people -  where do I even start? I'm scared!”

So many friends have actually said that to me. “What should I look for? Who has organic and who doesn't? Where DO I start?”

I have been asked to write an article about nutrition and eating healthfully, but I think that I should start from the core from where we get our food. If the produce is not from your own farm or backyard garden, then starting at our lovely local farmers markets that occurs every day of the week here in Los Angeles is another great way to promote healthful living. I mean, how lucky are we to have these resources so accessible to us?

First, bring a basket to collect your produce; and, if you can, place a small cooler that fits in your car and if you want to take that extra step include a bucket of water in your cooler so you can drop your greens straight in. This is good in case you have extra errand to run.

If you don’t have an idea of what is in season, then your first action should be to take a stroll through the market. Take a quick glance at the signs (“Organic,” “Sustainable,” “Fresh;” or if it does not have a sign), the people selling the produce, prices, and the way the produce looks. Take a mental note and think about your goal. Did you bring a list? Do you want more seasonal fruits, veggies, or meats - or do you prefer to just people watch? How much can you eat until your next shopping excursion?

After your glance through, go back to the vendors to which you are drawn. Pick up the fruit or vegetable. Smell it. Take a sample, if possible. Ask the vendor questions and see if you liked their response. Do you like their energy?

To find organic produce, take note of the item's appearance. If the fruit, vegetable is too clean and precise, then pesticides are normally used. If the fresh produce looks a bit wild, with holes in leaves or even a bug here or there then bingo - there’s your produce! You can ask questions before you buy, and don’t feel pressured to buy anything if it doesn’t seem right.

Once you get home, place your greens into a bucket of cold water and place that in the fridge. This way, your greens will stay fresh, alive and semi-washed. You can grab what you need from the bucket as you use your greens through the week.

This can be an easy and wonderful process. If you have had any fears of markets then start slow. Learn what is in season and learn what your body senses when you walk through the market.  If you have a market savvy friend, ask to go with them.  It is one of our best perks of living in Southern California!

Heng Ou
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